Six in a row for Louth sets up semi-final against Antrim

Lidl NFL Division 4: Louth 2-19 Fermanagh 2-10

Louth continued their recent good form with a convincing win over Fermanagh in a bitterly cold Tullyallen on Sunday afternoon. The victory their sixth win in seven games in the competition helped the Reds to top spot in the group and set up a semi-final meeting with Antrim, while Limerick take on Fermanagh in the other semi-final.

Wind assisted Fermanagh got off to a good start as Aine McGovern fired over inside the first minute. Louth showing six changes from the side that beat Derry a week earlier responded strongly with Emer Byrne evading a couple of challenges before unleashing a terrific shot shot which seemed destined for the corner of the net only to be denied by a brilliant save by Erne keeper Aisling Healey. Two well taken scores from Aimee McNally edged Louth in front before the impressive Ciara Woods had the home side’s first goal in the eighth minute, her well struck effort finding the net after hitting a post.

It could have got even better soon after as following good play by Rebecca Carr and Emer Byrne put Jennifer McGuiness in on goal only for the Stabannon star to see her shot stopped on the line by full back Erin Murphy.

Louth continued to dominate and points from Carr (2) and Flood extended the lead to 1-5 to 0-3 . Fermanagh were given renewed hope when Sarah Britton finished off a good move by beating Una Pearson from close range but it was Louth who finished the half strongly with further scores from Ciara Woods (2) and Flood to lead by 1-8 to 1-5 at the interval.

The Wee County could have been further ahead had Kate Flood converted a penalty in the last action of the half. Louth were a dealt a blow shortly after the restart when a high center from Joanne Doonan decevied keeper Una Pearson to leave the minimum between the sides.

Louth again reacted well to the set back with well taken points from Rebecca Carr, Ciara Woods and Emer Byrne. The young St Mochta’s star then effectively put the game beyond the Erne county’s reach midway through the half with a fabulous strike from twenty-five metres which give keeper Aisling Healey no chance, it was Byrne’s third goal in her last three games.

Both managers then took the opportunity to give some some game time to a number of their fringe players with the upcoming semi finals in mind as Louth closed out the game to record a comfortable win.

Seoda Matthews making her first competitive start had a fine outing along with Eimear Murray and Deirbhilile Osborne in a hard working defence while the midfield duo of Rebecca Carr and Emer Byrne were in dominate form and contributed a healthy 1-7 between them.In attack emerging stars Aimee McNally and Ciara Woods staked a claim for a starting place in the semi final with eye catching displays.

Louth manager Darren Bishop is pleased with how the league campaign has gone;
“I am delighted with the win today. At the start of the year we aimed for a top four finish and today’s win put’s us top which is an added bonus. Very pleased with the way the girls adapted to the conditions in the first half and this gave us a great stepping stone for the second half, going in leading having played against the elements.

2-19 was an great scoreline, however I believe there is still room for improvement. 2-10 is the highest we’ve conceded this year and it is something we will look to rectify this week. We have another game against Antrim coming up this weekend. When we met them in Cooley last month, I feel the conditions suited Louth and I believe it will be a very different game with two teams keen to reach a national final.
It’s been a busy five weeks for the players, but we have used the bench enabling us to give some of our key players a rest. We are very happy with the players that came in from the Derry game, these players have certainly given me plenty to think about”

Louth: Una Pearson; Shannen McLaughlin, Dearbhla O’Connor, Seoda Matthews; Aine Breen, Eimear Murray, Deirbhile Osborne; Rebecca Carr (0-5, three frees), Eimear Byrne (1-1); Aoife Russell (0-1), Susan Byrne, Jenni McGuinness (0-1); Ciara Woods (1-3), Kate Flood (0-5, 3f), Aimee McNally (0-2)
Subs: Grainne Murray , Sinead Woods (0-1) Emily Norton, Aisling O’Doherty.

Fermanagh: Aisling Healy, Edel Woods, Erin Murphy, Brodagh Duffy; Aisling Maguire, Courtney Murphy, Danielle McManus; Roisin McCusker, Roisin O’Reilly; Joanne Doonan (1-3), Nuala McManus, Shannon Courtney; Sarah Britton (1-1), Eimear Smyth (0-5, three frees), Aine McGovern (0-1)
Subs: Blaithin Bogue, Molly Flynn, Molly McGloin, Aoife Flanagan, Maria Maguire, Lisa Maguire, Michelle Cullen, Noelle Connolly, Shannan McQuaid

Referee: David Hurson (Monaghan).

Report by Dermot Woods | Photos by Warren Matthews