Elise Bruen battles with an Offaly player for the ball Picture: Willie Donnellan
Leitrim's hopes of avoiding a relegation battle were ended on Saturday in Leitrim Gaels Community Field when Offaly held off a late rally from the home side to win this crucial winner takes all TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship clash.
Leitrim raced into an early lead with three goals inside the first ten minutes from Carla Le Guen, Laura O'Dowd and Vivienne Egan as Offaly were unable to counter their fast running through the centre. However, the midlanders forced their way back into the game despite some appalling misses from frees and hitting the woodwork with goal efforts.
But just before halftime, a Marie Byrne got Offaly right back into it as the sides went into the break level on a scoreline of Leitrim 3-2 to Offaly's 2-5.
The second half was dominated completely by Offaly as they hit five unanswered points before a Vivienne Egan goal out of the blue suddenly gave Leitrim some hope.
Offaly, however, responded with three points to one from Egan as the game went into injury time. Leitrim needed a miracle and almost got it as Michelle Heslin finished off a wonderful move with a great goal that cut the gap to a point.
Leitrim needed victory, a draw wouldn't be enough as Offaly had a better scoring difference in their loss to Roscommon, but it was Offaly who had scoring chances but didn't take them. Michelle Heslin tried to engineer one last chance and soloed in some 30 yards but a last gasp tackle knocked the ball from her grasp and Offaly held out for the win.
SEE THIS WEEK'S LEITRIM OBSERVER FOR FULL REPORT