Last Monday saw Offaly’s four football development squads play in the first blitz of the year. These were Leinster GAA Blitzes, so the squads were pitted against teams from all over the province.
Results on the day are used to seed counties for the next blitz day which is on in early May.
The U-16 team under management of Dermot Dunne, Noel Daly and Vinny Claffey went to Dublin City University where they were in a group with Dublin and Westmeath. This squad is back-boned by players from Gallen and St Mary’s Edenderry and it has been hard to organise training with the school scene being given priority but these lads should be commended for their attitude and commitment to Offaly football as they togged out only two days after playing in the All Ireland Final.
First game was against a very strong Dublin team and Offaly were very slow starters and were beaten by 2-10 to 0-2. After this game the lads had to turn around and play straight away without a break, this time facing Westmeath. This game saw a huge improvement and Offaly won quiet easily by 5-8 to 0-5. In the last game of the blitz Dublin beat Westmeath 5-10 to 0-3. This means Offaly came second on the day to Dublin.
Offaly U-15s played their blitz at home in Belmont and great credit must go to Brian Flynn and the Ferbane/Belmont club who got the venue ready at short notice. The management team of Keith Begley, Padraig Murray and Adrian Gaffey, who were involved last year, decided to use this blitz to look at a lot of players and this proved very successful for them.
In the first game they beat Laois 1-7 to 0-3 and in the next game of the day Laois beat Longford by a point on a scoreline of 1-9 to 0-11. Having had the benefit of a break, Offaly went to town and beat Longford 4-8 to 1-2. These results mean Offaly are seeded as the top team going into the next blitz day.
Offaly U-14’s brought two teams to Westmeath, the first team went to the Athlone venue and equitted themselves well. The first match saw them beat Laois 4-16 to 0-1. All these games were played one after the other, so after a quick turn around Offaly drew with Longford 2-4 a piece.
In the last game of the day Offaly owned the ball but unfortunately Westmeath got through for goals too easily and beat Offaly 5-2 to 1-9. The management of John Hughes, Niall Spain and David Brady were very encouraged by the effort, skill and attitude of the lads in their first outing of the year and for most their first outing in an Offaly jersey against inter county opposition.
The second team traveled to Rosemount where, in terrible conditions, they unfortunately were on the wrong side of all three results losing to a very strong Laois team, narrowingly losing to Longford by a goal and Westmeath beat them also after getting a number of soft goals. The U-14 football is slightly different this year as teams are not seeded until after the second blitz day when counties have to select just one panel for the duration of the year.
Overall a successful day for all involved in the squads and a big thank you to all management and players and of course the parents who bring these players to training every week and for all the support they have given players and management thus far. A good start to a long year ahead.