Daly double the difference in Faithful's return to glory
Offaly 2-11 Wexford 0-12 - All-Ireland ladies JFC final
TWO precious goals from corner-forward Mairead Daly secured championship glory for Offaly at Croke Park.
Daly struck twice in the second half as the Faithful County won an All-Ireland title for the first time since their 1981 senior success.
Offaly had beaten Leinster rivals Wexford twice already in this year's championship, but Greg Farrelly's charges had to work incredibly hard for a third win against spirited opponents.
Daly, who was named player of the match, scored her first goal in the 38th minute, after Wexford had moved to within a point.
Daly's strike opened up a 1-8 to 0-7 lead, but Offaly could never relax until the St Rynagh's player netted again in the final minute.
Wexford were trailing by just two points, 0-12 to 1-11, when Daly scored the insurance goal.
Kym Furey's free dropped short, but Wexford goalkeeper Maryrose Kelly spilled the ball and Daly gleefully shot home into an empty net.
That was a cruel blow to Wexford, who made a mockery of the pre-match odds against red-hot favourites that had won well against them in both the Leinster final and a previous meeting in the All-Ireland series.
And Wexford could have made life even more uncomfortable for Offaly with 10 minutes remaining, when sub Chantelle Martin shot into the side-netting, at a time when a goal would have levelled matters.
But on the balance of play, Offaly deserved the win as Linda Sullivan led the line brilliantly.
She bagged four points, all from play, and could have goaled in the second half but for a brilliant save from Kelly, who deflected a powerful shot over the bar.
Wexford had scoring contributions from nine different players, but goals were decisive on the day and Daly notched both.
At half-time, Offaly led by 0-7 to 0-4, but the best goal chance of the opening half fell to Wexford forward Ellen O'Brien, who didn't get enough power into her shot.
Offaly's team also contained Treasa McManus (sister of former county footballer Ciaran), who won an intermediate title in 2008 with Tipperary.
Offaly began with the breeze at their backs and had established that three-point lead by the break.
But in a game they were expected to dominate, the newly-crowned West County Hotel cup holders could never establish more than a three-point advantage until into the second half, when Daly netted her first goal.
Scorers – Offaly: M Daly 2-1, L Sullivan 0-4, O Heavey 0-3 (3fs), L Keena, K Furey (f), A Kerrigan 0-1 each. Wexford: K Redmond 0-4 (3fs), L Tector, C Donnelly, S Kehoe, E O'Brien, F Rochford, L Evered, C Martin, A 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 (18), A Norris for E Sullivan (45), C Bennett for Guinan (60).
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 (39), L Casey for Fitzpatrick (39), C Martin for A Evered (55), M Quill for Kearney (49), L Casey for Murphy (55).
Ref – MJ O'Keeffe (Cork)