An injury-time goal from Rebecca Delee saw Offaly lose their opening round Camogie All-Ireland Championship game against Limerick at the weekend.
In a game where Offaly dominated with possession and play, the faithful lost control of the game in the final ten minutes. Limerick hit the final five scores to snatch the victory after Offaly were a goal clear down the home straight.
Offaly, coached by former Kilkenny hurling star Richie Power and with Performance Psychologist and former Olympian Jessie Barr in their management, retreated an extra player in Orlagh Kirwan to the middle third. Offaly were 1-7 to 0-8 ahead at half time.
It was an opening 30-minutes with eight scores each and four wides each but the fourth-minute goal from Christine Cleary proved to be the difference. The sides were level on three occasions but a run of late Siobhan Flannery frees had the Offaly side ahead at the break. Niamh Mulcahy with the first of first pointed frees in the half opened the scoring and a fine point from captain Caoimhe Costelloe had Limerick two points clear in the opening exchanges.
Offaly then found a run of three scores to lead 1-2 to 0-2 and still not five minutes played from Siobhan Flannery, Christine Cleary and Mairead Teehan.
Limerick went close to goal just after the mid-point of the half but after a fine Laura Stack solo, Mulchay or Lisa Leonard couldn't find the space to squeeze the sliothar to the net due to some great defending from Shannon Touhy, Alanna Roddy, Ann Marie Guinan and Sarah Walsh.
A trio of Siobhan Flannery frees had the Leinster side 1-6 to 0-6 clear with just under 10-minutes to half time.
Costelloe and another point from a Mulcahy placed ball tied the game up after five minutes of the restart. Level for the fourth time, it was Limerick's chance to get back in front for the first time since the fourth minute but alas Offaly went on another scoring run with points from Arlene Watkins, Siobhan Flannery and Jean Brady. With 10-minutes gone in the second period, it was Offaly 1-10, Limerick 0-10.
Limerick had just made a substitution which had pushed Rebecca Delee from wing back to midfield and when she broke onto possession in the middle third she soloed straight at the heart of the defence to finish in style to the net with no Offaly player chasing the mid-fielders run.
Although Offaly lost free-taker Siobhan Flannery to injury, they battled back to level the game for a fifth time and with 10-minutes to play it was 1-12 each.
Seven minutes from time Arlene Watkins struck for an Offaly goal and it was 2-12 to 1-12. At this moment in the game Offaly had a chance to tie up the game but a frantic finish meant Offaly were the wrong side of the result. Mulcahy, now at full forward, hit back for Limerick with a score from play and another from free. With 90-seconds of normal time remaining the Ahane star had the game level with another free.
Limerick 1-15, Offaly 2-12 and level for a sixth time. Lightning struck twice as a Delee made a surging run through the centre of the field to score an injury-time goal. She added a point and Limerick were four-point winners.
Offaly now face Galway in their second-round game in Lusmagh next Saturday evening at 5pm. Galway are current league champions but were defeated by Kilkenny by two points in the opening game.
SCORERS: Limerick: Niamh Mulcahy 0-11 (8frees and 1 '45), Rebecca Delee 2-1, Caoimhe Costelloe 0-3, Lisa Leonard 0-1. Offaly: Siobhan Flannery 0-7 (7frees), Christine Cleary and Arlene Watkins 1-1each, Mairead Teehan (1free), Michaela Morkan and Jean Brady 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: Laura O'Neill; Judith Mulcahy, Muireann Creamer, Marian Quaid; Rebecca Delee, Sarah Carey, Mairead Ryan; Roisin Ambrose, Deborah Murphy; Niamh Mulcahy, Lisa Leonard, Caoimhe Costelloe; Caoimhe Lyons, Katie Hennessy, Laura Stack. Subs: Niamh Ryan for Caoimhe Lyons (43mins), Neamh Curtin for Lisa Leonard (52mins), Dearbhla Egan for Katie Hennessy (53mins), Sophie O'Callaghan for Laura Stack (62mins).
OFFALY: Shannon Touhy; Alanna Roddy, Ann Marie Guinan, Sarah Walsh; Grace Teehan, Michaela Morkan, Triona McDonald; Ciara Brennan, Aisling Brennan; Siobhan Flannery, Arlene Watkins, Orlaigh Kirwan; Christine Cleary, Mairead Teehan, Jean Brady. Sub: Grainne Egan for Siobhan Flannery (48mins).
REFEREE: Fintan McNamara (Clare).
Talking point: Discipline really cost Offaly the game, Niamh Mulcahy for Limerick who is known for her free-taking abilities scored nine placed balls, three of these in the opening five minutes when Offaly worked hard to score 1-2 from play.