Offaly edge Louth

The Louth Ladies faced off against Offaly on Sunday in Newtown Blues pitch in Drogheda. Louth were unable to take their chances and narrowly lost in what was a tight affair.

Louth began the match well, with Sandra Lynch and Grace Lynch, aided by Ciara O’Connor who had been pulled back into midfield, working hard to win the ball around the middle of the field. Sandra Lynch scored the first point of the match with a free kick from thirty yards out in front of goals. Louth dominated much of the early possession, but were unable to convert the chances that presented themselves. Despite strong build up play, decision making and the decisive pass in the final third just didn’t go Louth’s way.

At the other end, Louth defended well, forcing the Offaly forward line, that so far this season has been clinical and decisive in all their matches, wide and shepherding them into isolated positions by closing down in groups. Wayward kicking meant that Offaly were unable to take advantage of several less than challenging free kicks.

The next point of the match did not come until the 11th minute, as Jenny McGuinness tore through a gap in the centre of the Offaly defence and floated the ball over the black spot. Offaly remained unable to score from play, as the Louth defence harried and harassed the oncoming Offaly players. Eventually Offaly drew level with both points coming from free kicks close to goal.

Katie Ann Holdcroft put Louth back in front with a great opportunist point, bravely diving for a loose ball that broke in the Offaly square and smartly chipping the ball over the wall of Offaly fullbacks parked on the goal line and between the posts. From the kick out Louth won the ball back and Grace Lynch exploited another gap between the half backs and breaking the first tackle, but her shot was blocked and was eventually cleared by a scrambling Offaly defence.

As the half time whistle approached Louth had begun to edge Offaly out of the game around the middle of the park. A high tackle on Sandra Lynch gave Louth a free kick 40 yards out and as the high looping kick dipped and bounced around the Offaly square, Danielle Sharkey was on hand to lay claim to the ball and dispatch it over the bar.

Jenny McGuinness was unlucky to see a chance that was a carbon copy of her first go over. Offaly made a strong break forward and a high ball that broke free caused havoc in the Louth goal mouth. Kelly Cunningham’s over-zealous challenge was adjudged a penalty by the referee and the Louth goalkeeper was centimetres from redemption, as her fingertip save just didn’t push the ball wide enough to stop an Offaly goal. Kate Flood clawed back another point just before half time from a well struck free kick.

The half time score was not indicative of the way the first half had played out. Louth will have felt that they had played a lot better than the half time score line suggested.

Louth opened the scoring in the second half. Michelle McMahon battled back to win the ball against the run of play and made a surging run along the right hand side of the pitch. Her long ball forward found Danielle Sharkey, who quickly gave the ball inside to Katie Ann Holdcroft. Katie Ann tussled with a torrent of Offaly defender and despite finding herself at an exceptionally acute angle from goal she coolly put the ball over the bar.

Offaly answered quickly scoring a point, and soon after were denied a goal opportunity by a good save from Kelly Cunningham. As Offaly bore down on goal once more Michelle McMahon made up ground and harassed the Offaly forward for the best part of twenty yards forcing her off balance as she shot, sending the ball sailing well wide.

Danielle Sharkey scored Louth’s next point, as Grace Lynch’s kick into space was claimed by Jenny McGuinness, who found Danielle in enough space for her to turn and shoot. Offaly followed swiftly with two points, as Louth struggled to make ground going forward against the Offaly defence.

Gillian McDonnell scored Louth’s last point of the game, managing to put the ball over the bar from close range despite the attention of several Offaly players. Offaly scored a point with 5 minutes remaining to put themselves two points ahead in the closing stages of the game. A last gasp free kick was floated into the Offaly goal line, Louth were unable to get around the Offaly defence camped along the square as the final whistle blew to confirm the victory for the Offaly side.






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