Friday 15 December 2017

Kelly joy as Offaly hold off Model's fightback

Offaly's progression through the camogie ranks continued as they beat Wexford to claim this title at Croke Park.

The Faithful women stayed strong to fend off a determined Wexford comeback at the end of a thrilling final. The south easterners had fought back from nine points down to level with 11 minutes on the clock.

But a superb Ailsa Hughes point ended a 15-minute drought for Offaly and they held out to claim victory.

Such an exciting denouement had looked unlikely at the end of a first half book-ended by goals from Offaly full- forward Elaine Dermody.

The first was a gift from Wexford 'keeper Helena Jacob, who misjudged a Dermody point attempt which sailed into the net. That filled Offaly with confidence and Jean Brady and Dermody added a double apiece, with Siobhan Flannery pointing to make the score 1-5 to 0-0.

Ciara O'Connor got Wexford off the mark with a 17th- minute point and Fiona Rochford, Lisa Bolger and O'Connor added points but a lovely flick home from Dermody and two Flannery points gave Offaly a nine-point lead at half-time.

But whatever Karen Barnes said to the Wexford team at the break certainly worked as they outscored Offaly 2-4 to a sole Dermody free to level on 49 minutes.

With substitute Eimear O'Connor steadying the ship, speedster Fiona Rochford got both goals, the first a handpass and the second a beautiful finish into the net.

But Offaly held their nerve as Hughes and Flannery sent over fine points to restore the lead.

And with Emma Dunne and Arlene Watkins countering Aoife O'Connor and Linda Bolger's efforts, they took their second successive title under a delighted Joachim Kelly.

"It's fantastic. We're delighted to come up two years in a row and win the intermediate a year after winning the junior," he said. "It is all down to the girls in that dressing-room. The experience of playing in Croke Park three years in a row stood to us. That game could have been gone from us.

"We told them to dig deep, to stick to the plan. The plan was to work, work, work, to stick at it. It got back to a drawn match with five, six minutes to go but we brought on two subs and they got a point each. I'm thrilled with the victory."

SCORERS -- Offaly: E Dermody 2-3 (0-1f), S Flannery 0-4, J Brady 0-2, E Dunne, A Hughes, A Watkins 0-1 each. Wexford: F Rochford 2-1, C O'Connor 0-5 (0-3f), Lisa Bolger 0-2, S Redmond, Linda Bolger 0-1 each.

Offaly -- A Kennedy; F Stephens, L Keena, K Brady; S Sullivan, M Morkan (capt), L Sullivan; A Watkins, M Crean; M Davis, A Kelly, S Flannery; K Nugent, E Dermody, T Hannon. Subs: M Davis for Kelly (41), A Hughes for Nugent (45), E Dunne for Flannery (56).

Wexford -- H Jacob; J Hayden, L O'Leary, C Atkinson; F Doran, L Codd, S Kehoe; E Moran, L O'Connor; F Rochford, S Nolan, S Redmond, S Kehoe, C O'Connor (capt) Lisa Bolger. Subs: E O'Connor for Nolan (h-t), B Curran for Doran (h-t), S Sinnott for Moran (41), Linda Bolger for Keogh (54).

REF -- O Elliott (Antrim).

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