Two goals from dynamic corner-forward Mairead Daly proved crucial as Offaly claimed the All Ireland Ladies Junior Football title in windswept Croke Park on Sunday.
TG4 All-Ireland Ladies JFC final
The game was close throughout with Offaly missing a host of chances in the first-half and they only held a 0-7 to 0-4 advantage.
Daly’s first goal after 38 minutes was a spectacular effort befitting any All Ireland Final as she cut in from the right hand side past three Wexford players before dispatching a ferocious left footed shot to the roof of the net.
Her second was a more opportunist effort as she picked up possession after a fumble from the Wexford goalkeeper before keeping her nerve to slot the ball home from close range.
The final whistle sparked scenes of great celebration for Offaly but they had had to work very hard and dig very deep to grind out the result.
There were some excellent performances on the day. The aforementioned Mairead Daly stole the headlines with her display but defensively Offaly were even more impressive with the full-back line of Michelle Guinan, Emma Dalton and Aoife Byrne excellent throughout.
The half-back line also played well with St Rynagh’s Emma Corcoran arguably Offaly’s best performer. She covered a phenomenal amount of ground raiding continually from wing-back with her pace and direct running causing huge problems for Wexford.
Orlagh Heavey and Amy Kerrigan put in a lot of work up front while Linda Sullivan was unlucky on several occasions not to get in for a goal or two of her own.
Substitute Aoife Norris was outstanding when she entered the game and broke up several Wexford attacks while also distributing the ball accurately and effectively.
Playing with the wind, Offaly made the stronger start to the game with points from Orlagh heavey (2), Mairead Daly and Lorraine Keena putting them 0-4 to 0-1 clear after 12 minutes.
However Offaly spurnned a number of good opportunities going for goal instead of taking their points. This allowed Wexford back into the game and they were back within a point late in the half.
Offaly lost centre-forward Lorraine Keena, who had been struggling with a knee injury going into the game, to injury after 18 minutes but her replacement Kym Furey added a late point as did Linda Sullivan to leave Offaly 0-7 to 0-4 ahead at the break.
Early in the second-half Wexford reduced the gap to one before Mairead Daly struck for her first goal to put Offaly 1-8 to 0-7 clear. Amy Kerrigan added a point but Wexford continued to battle and came very close to a goal when substitute Chantelle Martin hit the outside of the post from a narrow angle.
Entering the final minutes, there was just a point in it before Mairead Daly sealed the win puncing on a lose ball close to the Wexford goal and firing it to the back of the net.
That left Offaly 2-11 to 1-12 ahead and despite Wexford’s best efforts, Offaly held on for a deserved win with captain Siobhan Flannery lifting the cup in the Hogan Stand.
Scorers – Offaly: Maired Daly 2-1, Linda Sullivan 0-4, Orlagh Heavey 0-3 (0-3f), Lorraine Keena 0-1, Kym Furey 0-1f, A Kerrigan 0-1. Wexford: Katie Redmond 0-4 (0-3f), Leona Tector, Clara Donnelly, Sharon Kehoe, Ellen O’Brien, Fiona Rochford, Liz Evered, Chantell Martin, Aisling Murphy 0-1 each.
Offaly – L Devery; A Byrne, E Dalton, M Guinan; E Corcoran, H McMahon, C McDonnell; T McManus, S Flannery; E Sullivan, M Daly, O Heavey; L Keena, L Sullivan, A Kerrigan. Subs: K Furey for Keena (18mins), A Norris for E Sullivan (45mins), C Bennett for Guinan (60mins).
Wexford – M Kelly; L Tector, A Fitzpatrick, C Donnelly; S Kehoe, C McCabe, M Doyle; R Murphy, A Murphy; A Evered, E O’Brien, K Kearney; F Rochford, L Evered, K Redmond. Subs: R Lawlor for A Murphy (39mins), L Casey for Fitzpatrick (39mins), C Martin for A Evered (55mins), M Quill for Kearney (49mins), L Casey for Murphy (55mins).
Ref – MJ O’Keeffe (Cork)