ONLY an agonising late goal for the home side in the final minute of the game denied Offaly a victory in Ballinasloe on Sunday and in turn cost them a spot in the semi-final of the Division 1 league in only their first season in the top flight.
Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 1
After winning Junior and Intermediate All Irelands back to back, Offaly have had a stunning rise to camogie prominence and might have been forgive if they had found the going tough in Division 1 this year.
However after a string of good performances, Offaly showed again on Sunday that they are more than capable of competing with the best teams in the country and that is highlighted by the fact that they made the short trip home from Ballinasloe disappointed to have been beaten by a near full strength Galway side who needed to use their Killimor contingent to get them over the line.
The game was a story of two halves with a strong wind blowing towards the Fair Green end of the pitch.
Offaly played with the wind in the first half and took full advantage of the elements to open up a six point lead. The visitors played some excellent camogie all over the field and it could have been better for Offaly if they had taken some of the goal chances that came their way.
Elaine Dermody was deadly accurate from placed balls and was the scorer in chief in the first-half with five points from frees. Michela Morkan, Jean Brady and Linda O’Sullivan also got their names on the scoresheet to put Offaly 0-8 to 0-2 ahead.
With the aid of the wind in the second half, Galway, last year’s beaten All Ireland finalists, piled on the pressure scoring eight unanswered points. Aislinn Connolly and Rebecca Hennelly scored two frees a piece with Noreen Coen and Finola Kelly also finding the range.
As is their way however, Offaly showed true character and fighting spirit and took the game to their hosts and point from Elaine Dermody and Siobhan Flannery left the teams level at ten points each with minutes to go.
However the decisive score came in the closing seconds when a goal by Veronica Curtin in the fifty-ninth minute gave Galway the lead. Even then Offaly wouldn’t lie down and they applied strong pressure and almost snatched a draw with Siobhan Flannery blasting a free just over the crossbar.
As it was, Galway hung on by their fingertips for the win to reach the league semi-final at Offaly’s expense.
Despite the defeat, Offaly can enter the Championship season knowing they have what it takes to compete at this level. This was Offaly’s best performance in the league. The team played excellent camogie all through and battled very hard in the second half against the elements.
The backs were tight all through with Michela Morkan brilliant at centre back. Debbie Flynn and Sheila Sullivan were also prominent forming a great half back line.
The midfield pairing of Marion Crean and Orlaith Kirwin never gave Galway any space to move by constantly keeping pressure on there opponents. In attack Offaly were really committed and had good performances from Arlene Watkins, Siobhan Flannery and Elaine Darmody who scored a total of six points in frees.
Galway: Susan Earner, Regina Glynn, Sarah Dervan, Sinead Cahalan, Shauna Healy, Sinead Keane, Lorraine Ryan, Niamh Kilkenny, Naimh McGrath, Rebecca Hennelly, Fionula Kelly,Veronica Curtin, Tara Ketledge, Orla Kilkenny, Emma Kilkenny,Therese Manton, Jessica Gill, Aslinn Connolly, Noreen Coen, Heather Cooney, Collette Gill, Laura Mitchell, Sandra Tannian.
Offaly: Pamela Nugent, Fiona Stephens, Lorraine Keena, Karen Brady, Sheila Sullivan, Michaela Morkan, Debbie Flynn, Orla Kirwan, Marion Crean, Linda Sullivan, Arlene Watkins, Siobhan Flannery, Jean Brady, Aoife Kelly, Elaine Darmody,Tina Hannon, Alisa Huges, Michelle Gleeson, Emma Dunne, Marcella Nugent, Triona McDonald, Katie Bergin, Roisin Coughlan, Emma Fogarty. Manager: Joachim Kelly. Selectors- Ger Forgarty and Bernie Nugent