The Offaly U-16 A and B squads and their coaches travelled to the ‘sunny south east’ on Sunday for the last of their group matches before the semi-finals.
Leinster U-16A Championship
In the ‘A’ game, the result was in doubt until the final whistle but Offaly came out on top by the slimmest of margins .
The south east was anything but sunny however for this encounter in the Shelmalier grounds outside Castlebridge and the conditions were atrocious. The girls had to contend with a biting and bitterly cold easterly wind and constant rain throughut the game.
Offaly, having won the toss, opted to play against the gale force wind in the first half. They were on the back foot for the first 10 minutes and Wexford should have scored more than the two points they had on the scoreboard but erratic shooting and poorly taken frees proved costly for the home side.
Offaly scored their first point from a close in free by Mairead Jennings and they could have gone ahead immediately afterwards but a screamer from Sarah Harding was excellently saved and cleared by the Wexford goalie.
Wexford attacked from the puckout and were awarded a close in free which went all the way to the net leaving them ahead by four points.
Offaly responded when captain Cailin Fitzgerald waltzed through the Wexford defence after 25 minutes to score and inspirational goal which was followed by another soon after. Sarah Walsh sent in a looping ball to Offaly Emma Kirwan. She batted the ball across in front of the goal for Sarah Harding who rifled it to the net. That put Offaly two points ahead but Wexford finished the strongest scoring a soft goal with the last puck of a close, exciting and competitive half putting them 2-2 to 2-1 ahead.
Many of the Offaly supporters would have expected their team to pull away in the second half with the aid of the wind but a dogged and skilful Wexford side had other ideas.
Scores were hard to come by but Mairead Jennings was very accurate with the close in frees scoring two and another from play.Wexford attacked repeatedly towards the end but failed to notch an equaliser.
Many of this gritty Offaly are small in stature but they make up for any shortcomings with passion , determination and great spirit . Everyone of the players gave their all and backed each other up when their backs were against the wall and deservedly came out on top .
The Shelmalier pitch was taken out of commission when the ‘A’ game finished. This necessitated coaches and their second string travelling to another pitch 10km away where they played two 15 minutes halves in driving rain and equally awful conditions.
Congratulations to all the girls and their coaches for serving up some nice camogie in such dire conditions .
Offaly U-16A: S Touhey, S Ryan, A Brennan, C McCormack, A Daly, R Egan (0-1), A Feeney, M Jennings (0-4) S Walsh, T Delaney, C Fitzgerald (C) (1-0), E Kirwan, A Freeman, G Dolan, S Harding (1-0) Sub: A Sweeney for T Delaney
Offaly U-16B: A Whelehan, A Gilligan, E Buckley, L Hoctor, M Currams, C Brennan,,M King, A McLoughlin, E Harding, K Troy, R Kelly, O Plunkett, R Dermody, A Gorman (C), E O’Grady