An Of­faly tough test

Wick­low ladies beaten by strong Faith­ful County out­fit OF­FALY WICK­LOW 5-11 0-4

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - LIAM O’LOUGH­LIN at Dun­bur Park

WICK­LOW ladies re­cently cap­tured the Le­in­ster Premier Ju­nior camo­gie ti­tle and car­ried high hopes into the All-Ire­land se­ries.

They had this first out­ing on Satur­day last, July 13 against Of­faly at Dun­bur Road in Wick­low on a beau­ti­ful evening for a game.

The pitch was in bril­liant shape for hurl­ing and we ex­pe­ri­enced that rarest of events – Dun­bur Park with­out a whis­per of a breeze.

Wick­low were play­ing into the club­house end in the first half but it was Of­faly who got up and run­ning right away.

In the open­ing min­utes the vis­i­tors put the Wick­low de­fence un­der extreme pres­sure but goalie Sara Davis and full-back Cait Daynes sur­vived a couple of scary at­tacks manged to keep a clean sheet.

How­ever, full-for­ward Ciara Ryan was not to be de­nied and she scored two quick goals in the fourth and fifth min­utes.

When Dawn Whele­han added a point it looked like the flood­gates might open.

But to their credit the Wick­low de­fence knuck­led down to their tasks and gave a great display of hook­ing and block­ing to make it very dif­fi­cult for the mid­lan­ders to make progress.

Laura Manley and Sheenagh Byrne be­gan to win a share of mid­field ball and the Of­faly de­fence be­gan to be tested.

How­ever, they were more than up to the task and had a goal­keeper in Shauna Car­roll who was very com­pe­tent in deal­ing with any­thing that came their way.

How­ever, Wick­low had their best pe­riod in the game up to the twen­ti­eth minute and Laura Manley put three points on the score­board – one from a free, one from a ‘45’ and the other from play.

Hav­ing been kept score­less for al­most fif­teen min­utes, Of­faly broke through again with a goal and point from Louise Man­nion.

Ni­amh Killeen added another point and when Orla Ma­her got her first goal just be­fore the half-time break it put Of­faly 4-3 to 0-3 ahead and in to­tal con­trol.

Wick­low moved Laura Manley to at­tack for the se­cond half in an at­tempt to im­prove their scor­ing rate but it turned out to be a case of rob­bing Peter to pay Paul.

The ball sel­dom made it past mid­field but some solid de­fend­ing pre­vented Of­faly from run­ning riot.

Nev­er­the­less they added eight points and cen­tre-for­ward Orla Ma­her scored her se­cond goal.

Laura Manley had a point from a free for Wick­low but this was the Gar­den county’s only re­sponse for this half.

The Wick­low full-backs Suzanne Be­han, Cait Daynes and Amy Bar­rett de­fended hero­ically in the se­cond half and half backs Ni­amh Shan­non, Grace O’Sullivan and Shan­nagh Goeta­lan all stuck to their task en­sur­ing that all Of­faly scores had to be earned.

The strik­ing abil­ity of the vis­i­tors spread through­out their team proved to be the ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween the teams.

Of­faly were better able to find their play­ers in com­bi­na­tion play be­cause of this ad­van­tage.

In fair­ness to the Wick­low girls they too were al­ways trying to find col­leagues in their play and if they can work on im­prov­ing their strik­ing abil­ity it will help to close that gap.

Their next out­ing will be away to Water­ford, fol­lowed then by another home game against Lim­er­ick and then their final league out­ing against Kerry away on the first week end in Au­gust.

Scor­ers – Of­faly: Ciara Ryan 2-2, Orla Ma­her 2-1, Louise Man­nion 1-3, Dawn Whele­han 0-2, Ni­amh Killeen 0-2, Caitlin O’Meara 0-1.

Wick­low: Laura Manley 0-4.

Wick­low, who lost out to a strong Of­faly out­fit in the All-Ire­land se­ries.

Molly McCor­mack on the at­tack for Wick­low.

Wick­low’s Emily Rose Byrne keeps her eyes on the ball.

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