Mairead Reynolds pictured in action for Longford against Offaly in the Leinster Ladies Football Intermediate Championship game at O'Connor Park, Tullamore on Sunday last. Photo: Syl Healy
Longford Ladies suffered their first competitive defeat this year as they lost out to Offaly by the minimum of margins in the Leinster Intermediate Championship clash at O’Connor Park in Tullamore on Sunday last.
Offaly . . . 1-11 Longford . . . 1-10
But because of their fine eights point win over Louth in their opening group fixture Longford have qualified for the Leinster semi-final against Meath on Sunday June 25 with the bonus of home advantage at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park (throw-in 2.30pm).
Offaly were full value for their win last weekend and while Longford had chances in stoppage time to snatch a draw they failed to find the target as they fell to a disappointing defeat.
It was a below par performance from Longford with several of their main players out of the game for long periods.
The loss of Leanne Keegan and Sarah Tierney through injury was evident throughout. Tierney’s presence at full-forward was sorely missed as Longford squandered chances.
Michelle Farrell helped Longford race into an early three point lead in the 3rd minute kicking three points (one free).
Points from Mairead Daly and Ellee McEvoy cut the gap to one in the 4th minute but Aoife Darcy replied for Longford, kicking over a lovely point.
Points were traded between Aoife Norris and Aoife Darcy before Offaly kicked two fine points in a row to level the game in the 11th minute.
Longford went back in front in the 20th minute through Michelle Farrell before Darcy was unlucky to see her effort hit the crossbar one minute later.
Scores from Aisling O’Hara and a wonderful Michelle Farrell strike put Longford ahead by three by the 25th minute but in stoppage time Offaly came back into the game and points from McEvoy, Roisin Egan and a wonderful Daly score left the sides level going in at the break; 0-8 to 0-8.
Offaly made a great start to the second half and with three minutes gone they went ahead for the first time in the game; a free from McEvoy caught the Longford defence out and Maebh Coleman got a slight touch to put the ball past Michelle Kilkenny into the back of the net.
Longford had chances down the other end but were guilty of poor shooting and decision making; uncharacteristic mistakes from James Daly’s side.
Michelle Farrell (free) and Egan exchanged points before Longford were back on level terms in the 47th minute when young Ballymahon girl Aisling McCormack found the back of the net. Longford though failed to build on that goal and Offaly responded with points from Aoife Norris and Roisin Egan to regain the lead.
With time ticking down Longford went in search of scores. A great chance fell to Aisling Reynolds in the 60th minute but his shot was first saved by Offaly keeper Lauren Dunne; the rebound was blocked down by the Offaly defence and at the third attempt Reynolds blasted the ball over the bar for a point.
Longford had chances in stoppage time to claim a dramatic draw but Ann Duffy hit her shot wide and then Aisling Cosgrove’s effort was cleared by Offaly who held out for a crucial win to stay in the race for the Leinster title with a home semi-final against Wexford.
OFFALY: Lauren Dunne; Alisha Murphy, Sarah Cummins, Bernie Walsh; Grainne Dolan, Emer Nally, Katie Kehoe; Aoife Norris (0-2), Ellee McEvoy (0-2); Mairead Daly (0-4, 1f), Sarah Kehoe, Roisin Egan; Maebh Coleman (1-0), Claire O’Brien, Aoife Corbett.
Sub:- Roisin Kane for A Corbett (28 mins).
LONGFORD: Michelle Kilkenny (Dromard); Niamh Darcy (Clonguish), Mairead Moore (Clonguish), Aisling Cosgrove (Longford Slashers); Michelle Noonan (Carrickedmond), Lauren Farrell (Fingallians, Dublin), Emer Heaney (Ballymore); Aisling O’Hara (St Helen’s Drumlish, 0-1), Jacinta Brady (Killoe); Aisling McCormack (Ballymahon/Forgney, 1-0), Michelle Farrell (Colmcille, 0-6, 2f), Mairead Reynolds (Dromard); Aoife Darcy (Clonguish, 0-2), Anna McDonnell (Killoe), Aisling Reynolds (Ballymore, 0-1).
Sub:- Ann Duffy (Rathcline) for A O’Hara (50 mins).
Referee: Niall McCormack (Laois).