This Sunday, September 29 all roads will lead to Croke Park for the TG4 Ladies Junior Football All Ireland Final Preview between Offaly and Wexford and this present Offaly panel will be hoping to bridge the 31 year gap since Offaly last won an All Ireland Ladies title.
This will be the second meeting between the two sides in the championship. Offaly defeated Wexford in round three by 3-12 to 1-9.
Offaly manager Greg Farrelly and his back room team of Alan Ennis, Colin McNamara and physio Aoife Lawlor have done superb work with this talented squad of players and while Offaly will enter the game as firm favorites, Greg will know that the previous game between these two sides will count for nothing.
On their way to the final Offaly have defeated Louth by 2-12 to 0-5, Derry by 1-20 to 1-1, Wexford by 3-12 to 1-9 and in the All Ireland semi-final they defeated Derry by 5-16 to 1-3.
Without doubt this is a very strong Offaly squad with every one of the thirty players on the panel working hard to try and secure a place on the starting fifteen.
In the first round Offaly gained some revenge over Louth who had defeated them in the semi final last year. From the throw in Offaly set about their task in a very determined fashion and by half time they had opened up a 1-6 to 0-2 lead.
They started the second half with just fourteen layers as Lorraine Keena had been sin binned just before the first half ended, but the Offaly girls came out with all guns firing at the start of the second half and deservedly took the honours by 2-12 to 1-5.
The Offaly scores on the day were Mairead Daly 1-7, Linda Sullivan 1-3, and Orlagh Heavey 0-2.
In round two the opponents were Derry and once again all of the Offaly players put in very determined performances and easily accounted for their opponents by 1-20 to 1-1.
In this game Derry put the emphasis on defense, but when in possession Offaly used the ball well with five players getting on the score sheet.
The Offaly scorers against Derry were Orlagh Heavey (0-10, 2 frees), Mairead Daly (0-7, 1 free), Emma Dalton (1-1), Claire O’Brien (0-1), Treasa McManus (0-1).
In round three the Offaly Ladies endured their biggest test to date in the All Ireland junior football championship series. When the eventually over came the challenge of Wexford with nine points to spare and secured top spot in the group with three wins out of three. Offaly used their possession of the ball very well and with some neat interchange passing moves Offaly racked up the big score and set themselves up for an All Ireland semi final meeting with Derry.
The Offaly scorers against Wexford were Mairead Daly (1-3), Linda Sullivan (1-3), Orlagh Heavey (0-5), Siobhain Flannery (1-1).
The All Ireland semi final against Derry was played in Carrickmacross. Once again Derry opted to try and play a defensive game but the skill, accurate passing and long range scores taken by the Offaly players had the Derry girls chasing shadows for much of the game.
For this game Offaly had to start without the services of Hannah McMahon, Orlagh Heavey and Lorraine Keena, and the girls who were introduced to replace this trio all performed superbly on the day.
This was yet another very polished performance by a very well prepared team.
The Offaly scorers against Derry were Linda Sullivan (1-3, 1 free), Mairead Daly (1-3, 1 free), Elaine Sullivan (1-2), Niamh Malone (1-1), Siobhan Flannery (-0), Kym Furey (0-3, 2 frees), Emma Dalton (0-1), Claire O’Brien (0-1), Amy Kerrigan (0-1), Aoife Norris (0-1).
While they enter the final as favorites, the girls will realize that for the full sixty minutes against Wexford they will have to maintain 100% concentration, make full use of every scoring opportunity that comes their way, and ensure they do not give Wexford any opportunity to put the Offaly goals under pressure.