Louth 4-18 Carlow 2-09
Louth had fifteen points to spare in a comfortable opening round championship win in the Carlow sunshine on Sunday afternoon.
The win edges the Leinster champions within touching distance of the All Ireland semi-finals while Carlow for whom this was a bridge too far will have to pick themselves up for a must win Round 2 encounter with London.
In possibly their best performance of the year, the Reds produced a brilliant first half display to take a commanding twelve point lead into the interval-2:10 to 0:04 Louth started like a house on fire in the in the red hot heat and led by 1:2 to 0:00 after just three minutes. After Michelle McMahon had the first score inside ninety seconds, Niamh Rice showing great awareness pounced on a poor kick out to grab the opening goal.
Carlow then got on the scoreboard courtesy of two points from Cliodhna Ní Shé, however it was a brief respite as Louth who were pushing up on Roisin Ahearn’s kick out surged further ahead hitting the next five points with Lauren Boyle (3) and Kate Flood (2) both on target. They got a further boost when brilliant play by Niamh Rice put Kate Flood in on goal and the St. Patrick’s star rifled a superb shot into the corner of the Carlow net- 2:7 to 0:02 on twenty minutes.
Carlow had the next two points from Edel Hayden and Ni She but further scores from Flood, Rice and Susan Byrne left Louth well placed 2:10 to 0:05 ahead at the break.
As in the first half Louth started strongly with Rice and Flood raising white flags before Kate Flood who looked in the mood from early on left a couple of defenders in her wake and raced forward to blast the ball past substitute goalie Nicole Hanley.
As Carlow struggled, their opponents in contrast became increasingly confident and began to pull away with points from Boyle, Eimear Byrne (3) and Rebecca Carr before Carlow got the goal their brave display merited when sub Elaine Ware found the net with just six minutes left to play.
With the game over as a contest, both managers then introduced quite a number of subs in the trying conditions and after Rebecca Carr struck home Louth’s fourth goal, Rachel Sawyer added a second goal for the Barrowsiders as Louth got their campaign off to a very pleasing start.
Carlow couldn’t contain the attacking threat posed by Kate Flood, Lauren Boyle and Niamh Rice who between them contributed 3:12 of the winner’s total while the Byrne sisters Aoife and Eimear dominated the midfield exchanges ensuring a plentiful supply to the forward line.
The younger of the siblings Eimear made a series of perfectly timed lung- bursting runs that opened the Carlow defence and scored 0:3 while also seeing a goal bound hit a post in a fine display.
Training has been very tough over the past few weeks and it’s paying off on the field
Louth midfielder Aoife Byrne feels that the hard work done on the training ground is paying dividends;
“Everyone worked really hard from the first throw in. You always had someone running off your shoulder and that’s a reflection of how we train. We trained during the week to push up and press their kick outs and it worked today. A couple of our scores came from turn-overs of their kick outs. Training has been very tough over the past few weeks and it’s paying off on the field”
The St. Mochta’s star added it was “one of the hottest days I’ve ever played and it was really tough for both teams”
Louth: Una Pearson; Eilis Hand, Sarah Quinn, Shannen McLoughlin; Ceire Nolan, Michelle McMahon (0-1), Deirbhile Osborne; Eimear Byrne, (0:03,) Aoife Byrne; Rebecca Carr (1-1), Susan Byrne, (0:1) Aine Breen, Lauren Boyle (0:4,1free), Kate Flood (2:5, 0-2 frees), Niamh Rice (1:3).
Subs: Sinead Woods, Jennifer McGuinness, Grainne Murray, Leanne Sharkey
Carlow: Roisin Ahearn; Nuala Mohan, Leah Mullins, Anna Roche; Maria Kinsella, Antoinette Dowling, Ciara Mullins, (0:1) Edel Hayden,(0:1) Kerrel Clarke; Niamh Ford, Roisin Byrne, Ellen Atkinson, Rachel Sawyer, ,(1:00) Cliodhna Ní Shé (0-7, 5frees), Aoife Hayden
Subs: Nicole Hanley, Sarah Doyle, Caoimhe O’Neill, Elaine Ware (1:00)
Referee: Lorraine O’Sullivan (Dublin)
Report by Dermot Woods | Photos by Warren Matthews