Meath 3-10 Offaly 3-12
Meath Ladies met Offaly in round 6 of the Lidl National Football League in Dunshaughlin. This was a must win game for the Royals. Meath started the day in fourth position and needed to secure at least three points to have any chance of a semi final place.
Meath had strong start to the game with the midfield pairing of Niamh O'Sullivan and Maire O'Shaughnessy winning the ball. Fine interplay from midfield to Megan Thynne who fed Vikki Wall who put over her first point of the day on two minutes. This was followed up two minutes later with clever passing from O'Shaughnessy to Thynne to Wall who again put a point on the board.
Offaly pointed on 6 minutes and again on 6 minutes to level the game. Fiona O'Neill worked hard collecting ball from the back. A wide for Meath at this stage led to Fiona O' Neill getting on the end of the Offaly kick out to point for Meath.
On the resumption O'Neill again got the ball, passed to Aisling O'Reilly who passed to Bláthnaid Keogh. O'Neill received a neat pass from Keogh and finished to the back of the net. A goal for Meath!. O'Shaughnessy had a super catch in midfield to receive the Offaly kick out. Sara Powderly and Niamh Gallogly were strong in the back. Wall had a classy block to deny Offaly a score. Thynne and O'Shaughnessy had great interplay and found each other effortlessly.
Credit has to be given to Orla McLaughlin the Meath net minder. She pulled off a wonderful save in the right hand corner to deny Offaly a certain goal. Offaly pointed from the 45.
The resulting kickout found Niamh Gallogly who found O'Shaughnessy who found Wall who duly pointed again. Things were looking up for the Meath girls. Shortly Orla McLaughlin pulled off another fabulous save. The Royal Gaels Keeper was in superb form today.
Offaly pointed again and drove at the Meath goal again. McLaughlin again to the rescue. She saved another certain goal to Offaly's dismay. Bláthnaid Keogh and Wall worked strongly with Wall going deep, gathering ball and delivering it to Thynne who put it over the bar. Captain Niamh O'Sullivan played a good ball into White who hit the Offaly net. Meath were going well but Offaly hit back with a point and goal on 26 mins. That left just a goal between the teams at the break.
The second half resumed with Wall again taking a super score over the bar. But, Offaly weren't about to throw in the towel just yet and seemed to have found another gear. Maire Keogh having a few runs forward and putting pressure on the Offaly forwards! But again the Offaly forward line kept coming back. Another outstanding save by McLaughlin denies Offaly again.
Meath midfielders got on the kick out, passed to O'Neill who shot at the goal. The ball dropped through the keepers hands and was dispatched to the back of the net by Emma White. The game was tit for tat at this stage with Offaly managing to put a goal into the Meath net. Eight minutes gone in second half and Meath led by 3 - 06 to Offaly's 2 - 05
Shortly after that Meath made the first substation of the day when Ailbhe McHugh replaced Bláthnaid Keogh. On the resumption O'Shaughnessy won the kick out passed to Wall who again pointed for Meath. Offaly once again piled on the pressure and full back Sarah Powderly pulled off a great goal line save for the Royals on defence. This was followed up seconds later by another Offaly goal chance which was saved by McLaughlin Meath were under severe pressure at this stage.
A sixteenth minute penalty to Offaly which hit the Meath net brought the game to a one point lead for Meath. This only seemed to spur on Offaly and no amount of defending by Meath seemed to stem the flow of ball for Offaly into the Meath goal area. Offaly hit a purple patch, scoring 2 points and taking the lead for the first time in the game. Acting in true captain style Niamh O'Sullivan pointed twice for Meath to give Meath a 1 point lead again.
Offaly pointed again only for Fiona O'Neill to put a point over for Meath. Meath Leading by the narrowest of margins Offaly pointed again to draw the game. It was frantic play from both teams at this stage. Both sides level with just a minute to go. 3 - 10 a piece on 29 mins. Although the Meath girls led by O'Sullivan and O'Shaughnessy never gave up Offaly broke the Meath hearts by pointing twice in the last minute of injury to secure a win.
Meath team and scorers: Orlagh McLaughlin, Hannah Heskin, Sarah Powderly, Caitriona Keoghan, Maire Keogh, Kate Flynn, Niamh Gallogly (1), Niamh O'Sullivan (2), Maire O'Shaughnessy, Fiona O'Neill (1-02), Vikki Wall (4) Emma White (2g), Aisling O'Reilly, Bláthnaid Keogh, Megan Thynne (1)
Subs: Ailbhe McHugh for Keogh. (39mins) Joanna Byrne for White, Karley Leavy for Gallogly (45 mins)