After a very sucessful league campaign, the Offaly ladies footballers begin their championship with the hope of another national title in September.
Offaly, will travel to Longford for the first round of the Leinster Intermediate Football Championship on Wednesday night. The faithful girls will head into the game as underdogs owing to the fact that their opponents played Division 3 football this year a division above Offaly. Longford have also qualified for the All-Ireland Ladies Under 21 final beating favourites Cavan along the way.
Last times the sides met was in the 2014 Leinster final where Longford ran out comfortable winners. Twelve months on the 2015 squad is a force to be feared. The return of Mairead Daly and Orlagh Heavey from injury, along with Roisin Egan and Ellee McEvoy’s break into the senior setup, Offaly will once again fancy themselves to be back to the best the can be. To add to Offaly’s success and progress so far Egan, along with Laura Devery, Michelle Guinan, Catherine Bennett and Kym Furey were all named in the 2015 team of the league.
The weekends game will be missing some familiar faces such as 2013 player of the year Daly, fellow forward Kym Furey and wing back Emma Corcoran as the trio have opted for football across the pond. Captain Laura Devery is certain to take her place in the Offaly goals, and her defence will be well marshalled by Michelle Guinan, Catherine Bennett, Aoife Byrne, Emma Dalton and players like Flannery and Egan may also feature in the strong Offaly back six.
DCU’s Lynch Cup star Aoife Norris dominated Midfield throughout the League campaign especially in the Semi final win against Antrim where she contributed four points from play. Egan, Dalton and Sinead Daly have all also featured by her side through out the season. In the forward line, players like Lorraine Keena, Orlagh Heavey, Aoife Corbett, Linda Sullivan and Ellee McEvoy are all capable of getting crucial scores and working hard to break down tackles. The Longford defence will have to be on their toes for this All-Leinster clash.
The Offaly management team of Greg Farrelly, Alan Ennis, Joe Quinn, Noel Buckley, Johnno Kinahan, Nicola McEvoy and Damian McManamon are expected to name their team after training Friday evening, and will be hoping that their four duel stars Roisin Egan, Linda Sullivan, Siobhan Flannery and Lorraine Keena all make it through Offaly’s All-Ireland Senior Camoige opener on Sat afternoon away to Limerick to pick up their boots again less than 24 hours later for the big ball.