OFFALY produced a stunning team performance to claim the All Ireland Minor B Camogie Championship last Saturday with a comprehensive 22 win over a much fancied Wexford side.
All Ireland Minor B Camogie Final
In a game played in ideal conditions for camogie on a terrific pitch in Ashbourne, Offaly blitzed their opponents from the start opening up a 3-5 to 0-0 lead after just 15 minutes.
By the break Offaly were 18 points ahead and they added a further three goals in the second-half to wrap up a hugely impressive win.
From the throw-in Offaly were right on their game and they dominated the encounter from start to finish. The forward line was in incredible form playing with a pace and precision that left Wexford chasing shadows for the majority of the game. They used a short passing game to open up the space and used their speed to to great effect against the Wexford backs.
Defensively Offaly were equally as strong with Wexford managing just 1-1 from play over the hour with the first of those scores not coming until the 46th minute.
Wexford had cut a path through the championship on their way to the final scoring goals at will but on Saturday they were on the wrong end of an Offaly onslaught to which they had no answer.
Offaly couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game with the excellent Christine Cleary finding the back of the net with just 10 seconds on the clock.
Cleary was one of five U-16s who lost out to Wexford in their Leinster Final the previous week who started on Saturday and the quintet all played with an extra edge as they sought revenge for that loss.
Two points from Mairead Jennings followed the early goal before two goals in two minutes from captain Helen Dolan left Offaly 11 points ahead with just ten minutes on the clock. The first goal was an opportunist effort after the ball struck the post and fell kindly for the St Rynagh’s player to finish to the back of the net while the second was a well taken goal.
With the quartet of Ashling Brennan, Ciara Ryan, Colleen Fitzgerald and Grainne Egan bossing proceeding around the middle of the field, Offaly continued to pile on the scores with Egan converting two long range frees and Dolan also adding a point.
Wexford eventually opened their account with a point from a free from Nicole Fortune after 18 minutes but it was only a brief respite for the Slaneysiders as Offaly continued to dominate adding another five points in the closing ten minutes of the half with Grainne Egan (3), Helen Dolan and Rachel Brennan all finding the target.
That left Offaly 3-10 to 0-1 ahead at the break leaving Wexford a near impossible task to turn the game around.
To their credit Wexford came out with a renewed purpose in the second half and they were only denied an early goal by a fine save from Offaly goalkeeper Shannon Tuohey.
Two points from Nicole Fortune gave them the early momentum but any hopes they had of staging a comeback were swiftly dashed by player of the game Rachel Brennan who scored two goals in a minute to put the result beyond doubt. A thorn in Wexford’s side all day, the St Cillian’s player drilled two unstoppable shots to the back of the net past Geraldine Curtis in the Wexford goal. Both golas came from precise build up play which was the hallmark of Offaly’s performance.
Mairead Jennings and Jackie Quigley exchanged points before Offaly struck for a sixth goal with Helen Dolan completing her hat-trick in style. Again the outstanding Christine Cleary was involved in the move with Mairead Jennings providing the final pass and Dolan made no mistake with her finish.
With 46 minutes on the clock Wexford recorded their first score from play when substitute Hazel O’Leary slotted the ball over the bar and they followed that up with a goal when Nicole Fortune latched onto a lose ball and drilled it to the back of the net.
However those scores had no impact on the game as Offaly still lead 6-11 to 1-5 and they continued to pile on the pressure in the closing minutes. Rachel Brennan was twice denied her hat-trick by fine saves from Geraldine Curtis in the Wexford goal who made a number of fine stops on the day.
With the game well won, Offaly added a further three points in the closing minutes with Grainne Egan, Eimear Mooney and Mairead Jennings all finding the target. Wexford responded with two late points before the final whistle which sparked a pitch invasion from the Offaly subs as the team celebrated a remarkable All Ireland victory.
Scorers: Offaly: Helen Dolan 3-2; Rachel Brennan 2-1; Grainne Egan 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1 ‘45); Christine Cleary 1-0; Mairead Jennings 1-0; Eimear Mooney 0-1. Wexford: Nicole Fortune 1-3 (0-3f); Jackie Quigley 0-2f; Hazel O’Leary 0-1; Leona Breen 0-1f
Offaly: Shannon Tuohey; Laura Hogan, Roisin Egan, Edel O’Meara; Lauren Keneghan, Ashling Brennan, Kelly Sammon; Ciara Ryan, Colleen Fitzgerals; Ann Marie Guinan, Grainne Egan, Christine Cleary; Mairead Jennings, Rachel Brennan, Helen Dolan. Subs: Clodagh Shanahan for Laura Hogan (42mins), Eimear Mooney for Ciara Ryan (42mins), Lisa Gorman for Mairead Jennings (51mins), Paula Kinnarney for Edel O’Meara (54mins), Deirdre Cashin for Colleen Fitzgerald (54mins)
Wexford: Geraldine Curtis; Pam McCormack, Orlaith Prendergast, Rachel Bridges; Claire O’Rourke, Jackie Quigley, Nicola Byrne; Anna Whitty, Leona Breen; Maire Morrissey, Eimer Nolan, Louise Stafford; Victoria Burke, Nicole Fortune, Mary Cummins. Subs: Roisin Kehoe for Rachel Bridges (40mins), Hazel O’Leary for Louise Stafford (42mins), Muireann Byrne for Jackie Quigley (47mins)
Referee: Richard McNicholas (Galway)