It was a baptism of fire for Offaly in their first outing in the All Ireland Minor A Championship in Limerick Institute of Technology on Saturday as they succumbed to a 12 point loss at the hands of a talented Limerick side.
All Ireland Minor A Championship Rd 1
With ten members of the Limerick Intermediate team in their ranks, the home team were far sharper and were on top throughout. Had it not been for a string of super saves from Shannon Tuohey, the final score-line would have looked far worse for the visitors who struggled to get a foothold in the game. Full-back Roisin Egan and centre-back Aisling Brennan also put in strong performances that helped keep the final Limerick total down.
There was no lack of effort from Offaly but by half-time they were 1-4 to 0-3 down having played with the whatever assistance there was from a difficult diagonal wind that swept across the wide open field in LIT.
Any thoughts Offaly may have had of mounting a comeback were gone within eight minutes of the restart as Limerick tacked on five quick points to put nine between the sides. Offaly managed just one point in the second-half from captain Rachel Brennan while Limerick kept the scoreboard ticking over to record a fully deserved win.
The games won’t get any easier for Offaly as they will host both Cork and Dublin in the coming weeks and they will need to regroup quickly ahead of those encounters.
Limerick made the perfect start to the game when, from a sideline that should have been awarded to Offaly, they swept the ball across the square and Deborah Murphy was on hand to tap the ball into the net.
Playing with a third midfielder and two inside forwards, Limerick had the better of Offaly tactically and points from Caoimhe Lyons, Rebecca Delee and the outstanding Caoimhe Costello put six between the sides. Mairead Jennings finally opened Offaly’s account with 21 minutes on the clock and the Birr player added two further frees before the break with a point from Kate Mulqueen leaving Limerick 1-4 to 0-3 ahead at the break.
The second-half was all Limerick and they opened the half with five points in eight minutes to put the game beyond Offaly. It would have been worse but for three fine saves from Shannon Tuohey including one where she dived bravely at the feet of Kate Mulqueen just as the Limerick player was about to strike the ball.
The points kept coming for Limerick and by the midway point of the half, they were 1-11 to 0-3 ahead with Offaly, now playing with a sweeper, struggling to make any impact at the attacking end of the field.
They did manage one point in the second-half when captain Rachel Brennan put the ball over the bar but Limerick closed out the game with two more points although they were denied any more goals by two more excellent saves from Shannon Touhey.
Scorers: Limerick: Caoimhe Costello 0-5 (0-4f); Rebecca Delee 0-3; Deborah Murphy 1-0; Kate Mulqueen 0-2; Caoimhe Lyons 0-2; Donna Mulchay 0-1. Offaly: Mairead Jennings 0-3f; Rachel Brennan 0-1
Limerick: Orla Condon; Katie Hennessy, Sinead McNamara, Leanne Browne; Sarah Shanahan, Tara Fitzgibbon, Jane Wilson; Karen O’Leary, Donna Mulcahy; Caoimhe Costello, Rebecca Delee, Deborah Murphy; Caoimhe Lyons, Kate Mulqueen, Aoife Wilson. Sub: Helena Fitzgerald for Sarah Shanahan (55mins)
Offaly: Shannon Tuohey (Tullamore); Laura Hogan (St Cillian’s), Roisin Egan (St Rynagh’s), Paula Kinnarney (Tullamore); Deirdre Cashen (Birr), Aisling Brennan (St Cillian’s), Kelly Sammon (Shinrone); Cialin Fitzgerald (St Cillian’s), Christine Cleary (Shinrone); Grainne Dolan (St Rynagh’s), Rachel Brennan (St Cillian’s), Sarah Walsh (Tullamore); Lisa Gorman (Tullamore), Sarah Harding (Birr), Mairead Jennings (Birr). Subs: Gillian Irwin (Birr), Ciara Ryan (Birr), Aideen Freeman (St Cillian’s)