CAMOGIE: Tipperary 4-17 Offaly 0-13 – Littlewoods League D1 Quarter-Final
By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Grace O’Brien plundered 2-4 from play while Cáit Devane contributed a total of 2-5 as Tipperary pulled away in the final quarter for a comfortable Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1 quarter-final triumph.
While the 16-point margin is harsh on Offaly, who battled hard for much of proceedings before running out of steam, there was no questioning the merit of Tipp’s success as they held the upper hand for the majority of the affair.
The winners’ superior conditioning built up over recent years was very evident as they registered two goals and six points after the 39th minute dismissal of dual player Róisín Howard for committing two yellow-card offences in 90 seconds.
Aisling Brennan was among Offaly’s most visible contributors but she received her marching orders 11 minutes after Howard, picking up her second yellow card when fouling Miriam Campion for a penalty dispatched with venom by Devane.
The breadth of scorers will have really pleased the Premiers’ manager Bill Mullaney, especially while the game was still a contest, given the unhealthy reliance on Devane in this department over the years.
O’Brien was almost unmarkable in the first half but Devane is all class of course and her first goal was a ferocious finish that sent Tipp on their way.
Offaly actually had a couple of early goal chances through Gráinne Egan and Mairéad Teehan and Egan got the scoring under way from a 45 but O’Brien was economy personified in slotting a brace of points, the second a peach.
Tipp poured forward as they enjoyed plenty of success on the Offaly puckout. That led to them quickly augmenting their tally to the tune of four more points, Devane (free), Howard, Ereena Fryday and O’Brien again stretching the margin to five.
Aisling Brennan landed a score from distance and Egan converted a free to steady the ship by the end of the first quarter.
The relief was momentary however, as a length-of-the-field move in which Nicole Walsh in particular played a key role was brought to a definitive conclusion with a stunning strike by Devane that left Mairéad Jennings with no chance between the Offaly posts as the sliotar flew into the far corner.
Eimear McGrath and Devane pointed either side of a smartly-taken minor by former Tipp player Teehan, but when O’Brien drilled to the empty net after Clodagh McIntyre had pounced on an error by Jennings, it was always going to be a long road back for Offaly.
That said, Susan Earner’s charges did provide the last two scores of the half from placed balls by Egan to remain in touching distance, 2-8 to 0-7 behind at the interval.
Tipp were able to find space too easily in the Offaly half however, and with Mary Ryan enjoying herself in an often-unattended role deep in her own sector, she was able to get attack after attack under way.
Her grateful attacking colleagues capitalised on many of the subsequent opportunities against an increasingly-overworked Faithful rearguard, as half-time sub Campion, Walsh, O’Brien and McGrath put nine points between the sides within eight minutes of the restart, the redoubtable Brennan and Kate Kenny having split the posts for Offaly.
Egan was moved onto Ryan after Howard’s red card but Offaly were waning while their rivals moved into overdrive.
Devane converted the 50th minute penalty but it was fitting that the elusive O’Brien would have the final say, goaling from a ground shot in injury time after gathering Devane’s clever cross-field ball.
SCORERS FOR TIPPERARY: C Devane 2-5(0-3fs, 1-0 pen); G O’Brien 2-4; E McGrath 0-3; R Howard, E Fryday, M Campion, N Walsh, J Kelly 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR OFFALY: G Egan 0-6(4fs, 2 45s); A Brennan, M Teehan 0-2 each; K Kenny, M Morkan 0-1 each
TIPPERARY: Á Slattery, J Bourke, M Ryan, E Loughman, A McGrath, M Eviston, S Fryday, E Fryday, R Howard, E McGrath, N Walsh, N Treacy, G O’Brien, C Devane, C McIntyre
Subs: M Campion for Treacy (ht), C McCarthy for E Fryday (40), J Kelly for McIntyre (45), L O’Dwyer for Ryan (56), S Delaney for Eviston (58), C Hennessy for E McGrath (59), L Loughnane for Loughman (60+1)
OFFALY: M Jennings, S Walsh, L Keena, S Shanahan, A Byrne, A Brennan, M Morkan, R Egan, O Kirwan, E Mulrooney, K Kenny, G Dolan, S Harding, G Egan, M Teehan
Subs: S Flannery for Mulrooney (44), C Cleary for Harding (46)
REFEREE: J Heffernan (Wexford)
CAMOGIE: Kilkenny 2-10 Limerick 0-13 – Littlewoods League Division 1 Quarter-Final