A late goal from a long range free from Cork’s Cliona O’Callaghan which eluded the Offaly defence as the visitor’s just edged a hard fought encounter in St Brendan’s Park last Sunday.
All Ireland U-16A Championship
In a game where both defences were on top, Offaly had fought back from a 0-5 to 0-3 deficit at the break to lead by 0-9 to 0-8 entering the final five minutes.
The home side looked to be on course for a memorable win before the late goal put Cork back in front.
Offaly continued to battle hard looking for a goal of their own to snatch the win but two attacks were broken up by Cliona O’Callaghan as Cork held on for a two point win.
There was little to chose between the sides for the majority of the game with the respective full-backs and centre-backs the outstanding quartet on the field.
Offaly’s Roisin Egan and Aisling Brennan, who started in the same positions on the All Ireland winning minor team, were imperious for Offaly giving an exhibition of defending. Their opposite numbers Aine Crowley and Cliona O’Callaghan were just as influential for their side as both sets of forwards struggled to get any space or possession.
Both sides started quickly with Cork leading by 0-3 to 0-2 after just six minutes. Michaella Buckley opened the scoring for Cork with Eirne O’Dheumnsaigh adding a second soon after.
Birr’s Mairead Jennings got Offaly back into the game with two points from frees but Cork’s Katie O’Keefe kept her side in front with her first point of the day from a free.
As the game settled, the defences began to get on top and it took 14 minutes for the next score to arrive with Katie O’Keefe extending Cork’s lead.
Mairead Jennings got Offaly back within one after 25 minutes but Cork went to half-time two points ahead when Michaella Buckley slotted over her second point of the half.
That lead became three eight minutes into the second-half when Katie O’Keefe slotted over a point but Offaly battled back well with points from Mairead Jennings and Niamh Killeen.
It was nip and tuck between the 40th and 50th minutes with both sides adding two points with Cailin Fitzgerald and Mairead Jennings on target for Offaly while Katie O’Keefe and Cliona O’Callaghan responded with points from frees from Cork.
That left Cork 0-8 to 0-7 ahead entering the final ten minutes but Offaly were beginning to get the upper hand and points from Mairead Jennings, her sixth, and one from Sarah Walsh put the home side in front with just five minutes remaining.
Cheered on by the vocal home support in Birr, Offaly were on the cusp of victory but Cork were not finished and a fortunate goal from a long range free from Cliona O’Callaghan that eluded the Offaly defence put them back in front.
Offaly threw everything forward in search of a winning goal but the Cork defence stood firm and held on for the win
Scorers: Offaly: Mairead Jennings 0-6f; Cailin Fitzgerald 0-1; Sarah Walsh 0-1; Niamh Killeen 0-1. Cork: Katie O’Keefe 0-4 (0-3f); Cliona O’Callaghan 1-1f; Michaella Buckley 0-2; Eirne Ni Dheumnsaigh 0-1.
Offaly: Shannon Touhey; Shiofra Ryan, Roisin Egan, Lucy Ryan; Siobhan Killeen, Aisling Brennan, Ann Daly; Mairead Jennings, Gillian Irwin; Grainne Dolan, Sarah Walsh, Terri Delaney; Aideen Freeman, Cailin Fitzgerald, Niamh Killeen. Subs: Sarah Harding for Terri Delaney (HT); Ciara Brennan for Gillian Irwin (50mins)
Cork: Chloe Casey; Katie Berry, Aine Crowley, Aisling Kelleher; Kelly Falvey, Cliona O’Callaghan, Rebecca Walsh; Eirne Ni Dheumnsaigh, Ailbhe Dowling; Sinead Mills, Hannah Looney, Hayley Fitzgerald; Michaella Buckley, Katie O’Keefe, Lauren Casserly. Subs: Michaella Hyde for Lauren Casserly (37mins), Katie Barry for Hayley Fitzgerald (41mins)