The Offaly team.
WITH not a breath of fresh air and the sun hitting highs of 28 degrees in Kingspan Breffni in Cavan, it was a day to remember for some but unfortunately one that the Offaly Under 16 panel will remember overly fondly, despite a fantastic effort and a score line that could have won many a match.
They can be very proud of a season where after playing Kildare, Laois, Carlow and Antrim in a very short 5 week period they remained unbeaten until Sunday’s final. Meath would have been favourites going into the final as these teams have played before with Meath coming out on top. However, the Faithful County panel would have been very happy with their preparation and headed to an All-Ireland final with nothing to fear. The match promised a feast of goals as both teams had come to the final with an amazing 20 goals each in the run up.
When the game got under way, Meath’s constant barrage on the Offaly goals reaped rewards and Offaly’s comeback never seemed to gain any momentum. Every time Offaly scored a goal and had a hopeful period Meath came back with a goal of their own to add to their tally. On another day it may all have been different, a perfect start from Meath and an unlucky start by Offaly. It could have all be different if roles had been reversed. At half time the score read Meath 6-2 Offaly 1-7.
Offaly came out with a renewed vigour with the ever impressive Molly Hogan hitting two goals. Amy Sullivan continued to be her reliable self, scoring from frees and play. Offaly captain, Ciara Maher lead by example and hit a sensational point while Orla Kilmartin, who really impressed after coming off the bench raised a green flag for Offaly but nothing was enough to reel Meath in.
Offaly can take some much solace from this season. Offaly supporters can delight in scores coming from not only their forward line. Just take a look at the list of players who scored for Offaly and those that didn’t scored in Sunday’s final have done their fair share in previous matches.
Nicola Cleary had a never give up attitude that deserves special mention. Caoimhe O’Donovan again gave a great performance and Amy Sullivan again rose to the occasion giving her all.
It was a tough defeat for the Offaly girls and that showed in the tears that flowed after the final whistle blew however the team will know that what is learned in defeat can never be learned in winning. The desire to achieve something never reached before will only make you better players in the future and when that winning day comes it will be all the sweeter.
Offaly Scorers: Amy Sullivan 1-6, Molly Hogan 2-0, Orla Kilmartin 1-1, Roisin Kinsella 0-1, Grainne Kennedy 0-1, Caoimhe O’Donovan 0-1, Ciara Maher 0-1, Aoibhe Carey 0-1.
Meath: Amy Lawless, Michelle Brien, Gracie Grehan, Alannah Brady, Lilly Dwyer, Kerrie Cole, Roisin Heaney, Grace Connolly, Aoife Carey, Katie Mulchrone, Katie Connolly, Anna Foley, Sarah Brien, Laura Kelly (Captain), Ella O’Brien. Subs: Maddy McKinley, Sarah Pierse, Brooke Flynn, Izzy Kinsella, Saoirse Delaney, Lara Lacey, Jorja Keogh, Emma O’Neill, Aimee Shankey, Holly Macken, Ciara Leddy, Alannah Rattigan, Lily Smith
Offaly: Sophie James, Ciara Kilmartin, Cait Hickey, Caoimhe Ginty, Bronagh Kenneally, Nicola Cleary, Ciara Maher (Captain), Aoife O’Donovan, Grainne Kennedy, Roisin Kinsella, Amy Sullivan (Vice Captain), Caoimhe O’Donovan, Molly Hogan, Sarah Dillon, Fianait Dooley. Subs: Kacey Delaney, Stephanie Mahon, Aoife Byrne, Aoibhe Carey, Katie Hennessy, Orla Kilmartin, Emily Conlon, Aisling Hughes, Aislinn Ryan, Aoife Liffey, Caoimhe Quinn
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