Offaly advanced to the All Ireland Minor B Final with a hard fought win over Antrim in windy conditions in Cavan on Saturday. Grainne Egan was the star of the show for Offaly with the Shinrone player scoring 2-7 of her side’s total.
All Ireland Minor B semi-final
After a low scoring first-half, Offaly led by 2-2 to 0-2 but Antrim came back strongly after half-time scoring four consecutive points to cut the deficit to just two.
However that was as close as Antrim got as they added just one further point for the remainder of the game while Offaly added another 1-5 with all the scores coming from Grainne Egan.
Offaly will now face Wexford in the All Ireland Final on Saturday week after the Slaneysiders had an impressive 2-14 to 0-2 win over Dublin in the other semi-final.
After a 20 minute delay due to the fact that the referee got lost on his way to remote venue for the game in Drumlane outside Cavan town, the game eventually got underway with a stand by official in charge and Antrim opened the scoring after three minutes with a point from Nicole O’Neill.
With both sides struggling to adapt to the strong win blowing straight across the field, Offaly eventually opened their account on 14 minutes when Birr’s Mairead Jennings was on hand to fire a lose ball to the back of the net from close range.
Helen Dolan almost added a second goal soon after when she latched onto a ball that was batted down Shari Carey but the Offaly captain’s shot went wide of the right hand upright.
Offaly were putting Antrim under intense pressure in this period of the game and the second goal did arrive soon after when Grainne Egan dispatched the sliotar to the back of the net with a powerful drive.
A point from a free from Nicole O’Neill for Antrim briefly reduced the gap to four but Grainne Egan added two further points, one from a free and one from a ‘45, to leave Offaly 2-2 to 0-2 ahead at the interval.
The second-half started with Dublin official Paul Flanagan in charge after he eventualy arrived at the venue and Antrim also came out with a new sense of purpose and they quickly closed the gap between the sides.
Two points from Nicole O’Neill either side of one apiece from Niamh O’Neill and Julie Dickson cut Offaly’s lead to just two points within eight minutes of the restart.
Offaly were dropping deep at this point and were allowing Antrim too much time and space in the middle of the field and the Ulster side were taking full advantage as they enjoyed their best spell of the game.
After a shaky start, Offaly eventually settled back into the game with Grainne Egan again to the fore. She slotted over two points which helped settle Offaly back into the game. A minute later Offaly almost added a third goal but after making a great run through the heart of the Antrim defence, Rachel Brennan’s shot was well saved by Shari Carey in the Antrim goal.
Antrim were back within a goal with 18 minutes remaining when Niamh Adams slotted over a point but that would prove to be their final score as Offaly gained the upper hand in the final quarter of the game.
After adding her fifth point of the game, Grainne Egan struck for the decisive score. After good work from impressive substitute Lisa Gorman and Colleen Fitzgerald, Egan got a sight of goal and she made no mistake with a powerful finish to the back of the net.
That put Offaly seven points clear and they closed out the game with two more points from player of the game Grainne Egan to seal a nine point win.
Scorers: Offaly Grainne Egan 2-7 (0-3f, 0-1 ‘45), Mairead Jennings 1-0. Antrim: Nicole O’Neill 0-4f, Niamh Adams 0-1, Niamh O’Neill 0-1, Julie Dickson 0-1
Offaly: Shannon Touhey; Laura Hogan, Roisin Egan, Clodagh Shanahan; Lauren Keenaghan, Ashling Brennan, Kelly Sammon; Ciara Ryan, Colleen Fitzgerald; Mairead Jennings, Grainne Egan, Christine Cleary; Eimear Mooney, Rachel Brennan, Helen Dolan. Subs: Ann Marie Guinan for Heleb Dolan (HT), Edel O’Meara for Clodagh Shanahan (HT), Edel O’Meara for Lauren Keneghan (39mins), Lisa Gorman for Eimear Mooney (43mins)
Antrim: Shari Carey; Aine Mullholland, Cara Boyle, Tara O’Neill; Bronagh McCaughan, Lucia McNaughton, Annie Laverty; Maeve Laverty, Erin Elliot; Julie Dickson, Nicole O’Neill, Niamh Adams; Eimear Byrne, Ursula McCotter, Niamh O’Neill. Subs: Chloe Higgins for Maeve Laverty (HT), Rebecca Higgins for Eimear Byrne (43mins)