THROWBACK THURSDAY: 20 years ago today, Offaly played Mayo in an All-Ireland semi-final

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Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

20 years ago today, August 31, 1997, Offaly contested an All-Ireland football semi-final against 2017 finalists Mayo after pulling off a shock to win the Leinster title.

Offaly began the year in Division 4 of the Football League, but put together a string of wins in Leinster to emerge from the province unscathed. 

They had 19 points to spare over Longford in Round 1 in Tullamore, while they hit a brick wall in the shape of Westmeath, drawing a tough contest in Tullamore, 0-8 to 0-8. Offaly regrouped and prevailed by 10 points in Mullingar two weeks later.

Offaly once again cruised to victory, this time by nine points, in their quarter-final tie with Wicklow. A hard fought two-point win over Louth in the semi-final followed, setting up a Leinster showdown with Meath, the team that had beaten Dublin that year.

Vinny Claffey and Roy Malone were in inspired form as the Faithful ran out 3-17 to 1-15 victors over the Royals. An unlikely All-Ireland semi-final with Mayo beckoned.

The men from the west had contested the 1996 decider, and came in as favourites. They made relatively light work of the Offaly challenge, running out 0-13 to 0-7 winners.

The green and red were halted by the green and gold as Kerry collected their 31st All-Ireland title. David Reynolds was one of the stars for Offaly that year, scoring a championship total of 0-27, just one point short of Maurice Fitzgerald's Kerry total. 

Fitzgerald was named the All-Stars Footballer of the Year in 1997. 

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