JACKIE CAHILL AT CROKE PARK
SHËNAGH Enright scored an injury-time winning goal for Clare as the Banner County claimed the Gala All-Ireland junior camogie crown for the first time since 1986.
Clare bounced back from the heartbreak of three final defeats in the previous five seasons, including last year’s heartbreaking loss to Derry, to finally record a fourth All-Ireland crown at this grade.
Offaly, who were chasing a very first success in this competition, were left devastated as Enright, introduced 12 minutes after half-time, handpassed the sliotar to the net with a minute and a half of stoppage time played.
Offaly, who led by 1-7 to 1-3 at half-time, looked to have weathered a second half storm from Clare but they were caught right at the death by Enright.
Twice Clare fought back to within a point of their opponents in the second half while at the other end, goalkeeper Denise Lynch kept the Munster outfit in the game with two superb saves.
Enright’s late clincher was harsh on Joachim Kelly’s Offaly, who bounced back from a poor start to lead by four points at the halfway point of an entertaining encounter.
Clare star Carina Roseingrave netted after just five minutes but Offaly hit back with a run of points and the sides were level twice before the midway point in the first half.
Offaly, with Arlene Watkins and Tina Hannon in good form, assumed almost complete control before the break and Watkins found the net ten minutes before half-time, showing great skill to control captain Marion Crean’s lengthy delivery before cutting through on goal.
Two further points opened up a 1-7 to 1-2 lead for the Faithful County before Claire Commane hit back for Clare with the final score of the half, her side’s first point for 16 minutes.
A brace of Laura Linnane frees after half-time brought Clare right back into contention before goalkeeper Lynch was called upon to keep out Claire Nevin in the 43rd minute, and Jean Brady just three minutes later.
Those point-blank saves proved crucial for Clare and although Offaly led by three points, 1-10 to 1-7, with eight minutes remaining, Linnane’s fourth point of the second half offered a glimmer of hope before Enright struck with that last gasp winner.
Scorers for Clare: C Roseingrave & S Enright 1-1 each, L Linnane 0-4 (3f), S McMahon & C Commane 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: T Hannon 0-4, A Watkins 1-1, S Flannery 0-2 (1f), M Morkan 0-2f, F Stephens 0-1.
CLARE: D Lynch; C Hally, S Lafferty, A McInerney; K Lynch, D Corcoran, J Scanlon; C Morey, D Murphy; C Roseingrave, S McMahon, L Linnane; A Ryan, C McMahon, C Commane.
SUBS: F Lafferty for Morey (23m), S Enright for Ryan (42m), Ryan for S McMahon (48m).
OFFALY: A Kennedy; A Kelly, E Darmody, K Brady; S O’Sullivan, M Morkan, L Sullivan; M Crean, K Nugent; S Flannery, T Hannon, M Davis; F Stephens, N McCabe, A Watkins.
SUBS: J Feighery for K Brady (22m), L Keena for Kelly (h/t), J Brady for Davis (38m), A Corrigan for Flannery (50m), A Kelly for J Brady (50m).
Referee: U Kearney (Armagh)