Greg Farrelly’s Offaly were crowned Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 4 champions in Limerick on Saturday evening.
The Faithful County ran out narrow two-point winners, 1-14 to 0-15, over Roscommon in a clash that served as an entertaining curtain-raiser to the All-Ireland U21 football final between Galway and Cork at the Gaelic Grounds.
Roscommon suffered Division 4 final heartbreak for a third successive season, having lost against Westmeath in 2011 and Longford last year.
Offaly’s first League title since their Division 4 success nine years ago sees them promoted to Division 3, with luckless Roscommon condemend to life in the bottom tier for at least another year.
Linda Sullivan’s goal midway through the second half was the crucial score.
Sullivan opted to go herself in a two-on-one situation as inspirational captain and dual star Siobhan Flannery offered support on her left.
And Sullivan’s choice proved correct as the full-forward finished brilliantly with her right boot.
That score gave Offaly a five-point lead, 1-13 to 0-11, but Roscommon weren’t done yet and dragged themselves into contention with four successive scores.
Offaly were hanging on but player of the match Flannery settled their nerves three minutes from time with her third point from play – and the final score of the game.
At half-time, Offaly led by 0-11 to 0-07 as a blistering run of scores helped to establish that four-point gap.
Roscommon led by 0-05 to 0-03 before Offaly bagged six points without reply in a five-minute spell to move 0-09 to 0-05 clear.
Mairead Daly was prominent during this purple patch as she chipped over three points, including two frees.
But another dual player, Lorraine Keena, was Offaly’s outstanding performer in the first half as she notched five points before the break.
At the other end, Natalie McHugh was Roscommon’s main provider of scores, before Aine O’Brien exploded in the second half with four points from play.
But wasteful Roscommon registered six of their ten wides in the first half and the Westerners also missed an inviting goal chance in the sixth minute when Aine O’Brien shot straight at Laura Devery.
And Devery did brilliantly 30 seconds from time to ensure Offaly’s win as the quick-thinking netminder came racing from her goal to deny O’Brien again.
Roscommon can count themselves unfortunate not to have registered at least one goal, as Rachel Ryan’s shot early in the second half was blocked by Offaly wing-back Christine McDonnell.
Scorers for Offaly: L Keena 0-06 (3f), L Sullivan 1-01, M Daly 0-04 (3f), S Flannery 0-03.
Scorers for Roscommon: N McHugh 0-06 (4f), A O’Brien 0-04, R Ryan & J Higgins 0-02 each, M Freyne 0-01.
OFFALY: L Devery; M Guinan, E Dalton, H McMahon; E Corcoran, T McDonald, C McDonnell; T McManus, S Flannery; O Heavey, L Keena, E Sullivan; M Daly, L Sullivan, A Kerrigan.
Sub: K Furey for E Sullivan (38).
ROSCOMMON: C Manning; S Brady, F Beirne, G Dufficy; A McLoone, S Kenny, L Fleming; J Higgins, T Taylor; J Conlon, N McHugh, J Cregg; A O’Brien, R Ryan, N Ward.
Subs: L Brudell for Conlon (38), M Freyne for Ward (46).
Referee: G McMahon (Dublin).