Longford ladies completed a terrific second three-in-a-row of provincial titles in seven years with a nine point win over All-Ireland Junior champions Offaly in the Leinster Intermediate Football Final at the Clane grounds, Co Kildare on Sunday last.
Longford were in control right from the start and could have won the game by more. Offaly struggled and the two goals they scored gave some respectability to the scoreline. This result sees Longford into the All-Ireland quarter-final which will be played on either the 16th or 23rd of August.
After losing a number of players from last year’s panel Longford gave a number of new and young players their opportunity this year. They were backboned though by players who have been there the last few years; this year’s squad has a nice blend of youth and experience and it only augurs well for Longford.
A free from Aisling Reynolds in the second minute was the opening score of the game. Longford then hit two wides as they took a hold on the game. Michelle Farrell fired over another free before captain Sinead Farrell got her side’s third point in the 7th minute.
Offaly’s first point came in the 11th minute through Kym Furey. The forward was the Faithful County’s only threat throughout.
Longford stretched their lead in the 13th minute when Emma Farrelly found the back of the net and she followed that up with a point. Aisling Reynolds and Gemma Kenny added on further points to put Longford ahead by eight by the 18th minute.
Aoife Norris got Offaly’s second point minutes later before they created a goal chance but Longford keeper Michelle Kilkenny pulled off a good save to deny Emma Corcoran. A point from Michelle Farrell in the 27th minute left Longford leading by 1-7 to 0-2 at the break.
Just like the first half it was Aisling Reynolds who opened the scoring in the second half. Kym Furey replied with a pointed free for Offaly while down the other end Aisling Reynolds raced through with a goal on her mind but her shot hit the sidenetting.
It was all Longford and Michelle Farrell landed two fine points in a row to put 10 between the sides and it looked like game over but in the 41st minute Offaly pulled a goal back when Kym Furey took a quick free and the ball ended up in the net.
Longford replied with a free converted by Aisling Reynolds and a great point from Michelle Farrell. Furey was keeping Offaly’s scoreboard ticking over and she got her third point in the 46th minute but it was cancelled out by a good point from Reynolds to stretch Longford’s lead to nine points.
There was 10 in it again in the 53rd minute when Emer Heaney pointed a free as Longford decided to utilise their bench. Offaly got their second goal in the 54th minute when Aoife Norris raced through to score a fine goal.
But Longford’s response was excellent as they broke up the field with player of the match Michelle Farrell hitting a stunning shot to the net to restore the commanding advantage.
The last score of the game was fired over by Emma Corcoran for Offaly as Longford ran out emphatic winners of yet another Leinster Intermediate title in booking their place in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
LONGFORD: Michelle Kilkenny (Dromard); Mairead Moore (Clonguish), Geraldine McManus (Ballymahon/Forgney), Michelle Noonan (Carrickedmond); Claire Farrell (Longford Slashers), Sinead Farrell (Rathcline, 0-1), Orla Noonan (St. Helen’s); Siobhan McGowan (Clonguish), Gemma Kenny (Mostrim, 0-1), Emer Heaney (Ballymore, 0-1, f), Anne Marie Bratten (Killoe), Anna McDonnell (Killoe); Emma Farrelly (St. Helen’s, 1-1), Michelle Farrell (Colmcille, 1-4, 1f), Aisling Reynolds (Ballymore, 0-6, 5f).
Subs:- Aoife Darcy (Clonguish) for E Farrelly (41 mins); Louise Monaghan (Mostrim) for C Farrell (49 mins); Aibhe McGowan (Clonguish) for A Reynolds (56 mins); Aisling Greene (Clonguish) for E Heaney (57 mins); Caitriona Moore (Clonguish) for M Noonan (60 mins).
OFFALY: Laura Devery; Michelle Guinan, Sinead Daly, Ann Daly; Aoife Byrne, Hannah McMahon, Emma Nally; Treasa McManus, Emma Dalton; Kym Furey (1-3, 3f); Aoife Norris (1-1), Aoife Corbett; Shauna Farrelly, Claire O’Brien, Emma Corcoran (0-1).
Subs:- Grainne Dolan for C O’Brien (21 mins); herese Hickey for A Corbett (half-time); Catherine Bennett for A Daly (46 mins); Ciara McCormack for S Farrelly (52 mins).
Referee: Kevin Phelan (Laois).