OFFALY put the disappointment of last year’s Gala All-Ireland junior camogie final defeat firmly behind them as they ran out comprehensive winners in yesterday’s decider at Croke Park.
Experience played a significant role as Waterford started very nervously in their first appearance at Croke Park and Offaly raced to 1-11 to 0-4 interval lead.
Elaine Dermody had a wonderful game for the winners, particularly in that opening period, during which she scored a goal and five points.
The goal came in the 20th minute and was a well-taken score off the stick under intense pressure.
Michelle Davis and Siobhan Flannery also weighed in with two points apiece and Offaly were full value for their advantage at the change of ends.
Waterford resumed in determined fashion, with dual star Mary O’Donnell driving them on from centre-back.
Patricia Jackman gave Andy Moloney’s side real hope just four minutes after the resumption, when profiting from good work by Karen Kelly and Nicola Morrissey to drive to the roof of the Offaly net.
That put six points between the sides and by that stage, Faithful goalkeeper Audrey Kennedy had already made a smart stop from Kelly. She was to make another brilliant save late on from a Kelly shot.
Crucially, the Déise girls could not get any closer and two goals from Siobhán Flannery and Arlene Watkins in the 48th and 50th minutes completely knocked the stuffing out of them.
Flannery’s goal was the key score and she could thank Tina Hannon, who fought doggedly to win possession. When Watkins finished clinically two minutes later, Joachim Kelly’s crew were home and hosed.
To give Waterford their due, they never stopped battling. Áine Lyng found the net four minutes from the end with a close range strike but time was not on their side.
OFFALY: A Kennedy; F Stephens, L Keena, K Brady; S Sullivan, M Morkan, L Sullivan; A Watkins (1-1), M Crean; A Kelly, E Darmody (1-6) (0-4fs), M Davis (0-3); T Hannon (0-1), K Nugent (0-1), S Flannery (1-2).
Subs: J Brady for Flannery (56); A Corrigan for Kelly (60); E Dunne for Davis (60+3)
WATERFORD: A O’Brien; V Gaffney, S O’Grady, K M Hearne; G Kenneally, M O’Donnell, S Kiernan; M Murphy, C Raher; S Curran, K Kelly (0-2, 1f), N Morrissey (0-2,1f); P Jackman (1-1), A Lyng (1-3, (0-2fs), A Breathnach.
Subs: J Simpson for Curran (ht); A Kelly for Breathnach (53); M Russell for Gaffney (59)
Referee: P Walsh (Armagh).