An Offaly tough test
Wicklow ladies beaten by strong Faithful County outfit OFFALY WICKLOW 5-11 0-4
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.