John Maughan: 'No regrets whatsoever' over Offaly decision to play Division 3 final

Offaly didn't have to play the Division 3 decider against Derry given that they're out in the Leinster SFC next weekend against Louth
John Maughan: 'No regrets whatsoever' over Offaly decision to play Division 3 final

Offaly manager John Maughan at Croke Park. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Offaly manager John Maughan says he has no regrets about pushing to play the Allianz NFL Division 3 final, despite their heavy defeat just eight days out from the Championship.

The finals in Division 1, 2, and 4 were shelved and Offaly didn't have to play the Division 3 decider against Derry given that they're out in the Leinster SFC next weekend against Louth in Navan.

And after being fortunate to escape with only a 12-point beating at Croke Park, many in Offaly may have wished they didn't play, though Maughan says he has no regrets.

"No, none whatsoever," he said. "It's always a great experience to play in Croke Park and for our boys playing here, for many of them it was their first time, albeit a rather ugly defeat but nonetheless we always felt it would be good preparation going into the Louth championship game.

"A little bit despondent now, heads are down a little bit in the dressing-room but they'll be fine. That was a bonus game for us, we didn't anticipate it would go ahead this day last week so they were excited last Sunday morning when I told them the game was going ahead. So I have no regrets whatsoever."

Both sides came into the game with perfect records after four wins in 2021, though Derry lorded it over the Faithful throughout and were unfortunate not to have sniped a number of goals, wasting a penalty attempt late on.

"We struggled all over the pitch to be quite honest with you," said Maughan. "Derry are very formidable."

Derry manager Rory Gallagher said he felt his team was "never in too much trouble" though wasn't happy with the performance entirely, claiming they have plenty more in the tank heading into the Championship.

"We played fairly well but not as well as I would have liked," said Gallagher. "We were very wasteful, probably kept Offaly with half a chance in the game for too long."

The game was notable for the return of 2,400 spectators to Croke Park. They were dispersed throughout the upper and lower decks of the Cusack Stand.

"I'd say there were 2,300 from Offaly," smiled Maughan. "A stadium of this size, you know, it should be well able to accommodate a night like that with where we are in the vaccination roll-out. It's nice. I know there was a big demand for tickets in Offaly in particular. It's good to see people back."

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