Last weekend saw the long awaited return of adult club football in the Wee County with some great performances from new and established teams throughout the county.
St Fechins got their league campaign off to a winning start with a 5-point away victory over the Blues – Newtown Blues 2-6 St Fechins 2-11.
The Gers put six goals past St Pats in Lordship, winning by 6-06 to 2-11
Clan na Gael, in their first appearance in Div 1 were beaten at home by a very strong performance by St Brides, 3-5 to 6-13.
Cooley got the better of St Mochtas in Louth village, 3-7 to 1-6.
Roche got their Div 1 campaign off to a perfect start, winning 3-10 to 2-6 in Stabannon. It was the first match of the season and Orlagh Byrne captain of Stabannon Parnells welcomed Niamh Callan and her Roche Emmets team to Stabannon on what was in ideal day for football.
As the match got underway both teams, eager to get on the ball, it was Roche who made the first attempt at scoring as Tracey Rogers hit the Stabannon cross bar. Stabannon’s captain Orlagh Byrne was then on form and made a brilliant block to force Rogers to a wide ball again. This resulted in a 45 for Roche which Aisling Begley put over the bar putting her side in the lead with just five minutes played. Making her return to senior football, Caoimhe Boyle was on form the make another block forcing the Roche girls wide again. However, Roche responded will and after winning Stabannon’s kick out Abi Keenan hit the back of the net putting her side 4 points ahead to no score at about 8 minutes into the game. The pace and intensity at which the game was played in the first five minutes of the match was reflective of two Division 1 sides with everything to prove in 2021 and spectators knew that they would be in for a highly competitive 60 minutes of football.
Sarah McArdle and Aisling Begley were on form to hit two points to no reply from Stabannon. The mid Louth side then began to enjoy the main share of possession as they began to win their own kickouts and on the 11th minute of the game Anne-Lise Pineau got the mid Louth side on the score board as she put the ball over the bar. Stabannon were unlucky not to win the kick out from Fiona Levins but great play by Ciara McNally ensured Stabannon won the play back and sister Ruth was on hand to retain possession who made a great pass to Orlagh Byrne and Byrne made no mistake in putting the ball over the bar. Stabannon were on the attack and while not winning the Roche kick outs, players like Amy Malone and Caoimhe Boyle did outstanding work to overturn the play and a free on Malone resulted in Danielle Sharkey putting the ball over the bar following a great pass by Niamh Sadlier. It was now back to a three point game at 15 minutes of play.
Stabannon retained possession for the next few minutes and Sharkey and Malone were unlucky not to put their side ahead as two points and a goal were missed by the home side. At the other end Stabannon’s Aoife Lowth worked hard in defence and her efforts saw Sarah McArdle put the ball wide and Ellie Grant for Roche hit the cross bar. Stabannon then lost the kickout and were punished as Lauren Meehan put the ball between the posts to edge her side further ahead. Orlagh Byrne was outstanding in defence and it was unfortunate that a great spell of play by Stabannon involving Niamh Sadlier, Amy Malone and Laura McNally did not result in a score for Niall Conlons side. Abbie Keenan was proving to be a thorn in Stabannons side and on 25 minutes of play she put the ball over the bar edging her side further ahead as half time beckoned. Aisling Begley was then unlucky not to score for Roche and it was 1-5 to 0-3 points at half time in favour of Roche.
As the second half resumed, Lucy Smith making her debut in senior football replaced Anne-Lise Pineau for Stabannon. Stabannon started the second half strong with Laura McNally proving crucial in defence. Laura found Emma Chesire in the middle of the field who did not hesitate to pass to Smith who was unlucky not to score in the first minute of the second half. Again Chesire was on hand from the kick out and fielded a great ball to Danielle Sharkey who scored an excellent point leaving four between the teams. Stabannon were dominant in this spell of play and again Chesire won the kick out and found Sophie Smith in the forwards who put the ball in the back of the Roche net to leave it a one-point match five minutes into the second half. Under pressure at the other end from a superb Stabannon defence, Abbie Keenan put the ball wide for Roche. Caoimhe Boyle was again on hand to perform one of her brilliant blocks denying Keenan a goal. However, Jennie McCourt put the ball between the posts to edge Roche two points ahead. At the other end Danielle Sharkey played a great ball to Niamh Sadlier but a brilliant block was made on Sadlier as she was about to kick the ball denying her what surely would have been a goal.
At the other end, Abbie Keenan was again proving a challenge for Stabannon but was denied a goal with referee Tommy MeEnteggart deeming it to be a square ball. Keenan responded with a point following the kick out. Stabannon were guilty of not winning their own kick outs for periods in the game but when Chesire won the kick outs she could not be faulted for finding a player in a scoring position and this time she found Danielle Sharkey who put the ball over the bar. Ciara McNally was having a very strong game and found Niamh Sadlier who gave a great ball to Lucy Smith and Smith made no hesitation to put the ball in the back of the net, a brilliant way to mark her senior debut and edging Stabannon a point ahead. Roche immediately went on the attack and a point from Sarah McArdle and a goal and a point from Abbi Keenan soon wiped out Stabannon’s lead. There was now four between the teams and Niamh Sadlier was again unlucky not to score but as the teams returned from the water break Abbi Keenan again struck the back of Suzanne Carroll’s net putting seven between the teams. Stabannon bounced back with great play by Ciara McNally to find Sophie Smith who was unlucky not to hit the back of the net but settled for a point. Stabannon then replaced Smith with Ceadoin Fleming and Deirdre Lyons came on for Emma Chesire. As the game edged towards the end both teams never gave up and Abbi Keenan scored again for Roche. Stabannon were not so lucky at the other end as Danielle Sharkey was unlucky when a great kick dropped short into the hands of Fiona Levins and she was then lucky not to score from a free kick as full time beckoned.
The match ended on a final scoreline of 2-06 to Stabannon and 3-10 to Roche, a 7 point victory for the girls from Faughart. (Report by Teresa Hanratty)
Kilkerley got off to a great start with a big win over Naomh Fionbarra, 2-17 to 1 point, while St Kevins also started very strongly winning by 4-23 to 0-5 over Glyde.
In Monasterboice Dreadnots were the visitors to Gleann Mhairtin. The experienced Clogherhead ladies got off to a flying start with three goals in the first ten minutes from Stephanie Cunningham (2) and Annemarie Lynch. They went into the first half water break with a 3-6 to 0-3 lead which they never relinquished throughout the match.
The Monasterboice/Tullyallen combination fought back with a goal from Katie Murphy and well taken points from Marcella Molloy and Rachel Leonard. The half-time score was 3-8 to 1-7.
Dreadnots piled on more pressure in the second half and pulled away with further goals from Stephanie Cunningham and Nicole Cunningham and some well taken points from distance from all their forwards, while Kelly Cunningham in goals made some great saves to keep the Gleann Mhairtin forwards frustrated.
Midfielder Aine Carolan scored a late goal to add to her three points for Gleann Mhairtin and Rachel Leonard was unlucky to hit the woodwork on at least two occasions. However they couldn’t reel in the Dreadnots who ran out convincing winners on a final score line of 5-15 to 2-12.
On Friday evening the Division 3 competitions got underway.
In 3A there were wins for Newtown Blues B over the Geraldines B team, St Brides B got the better of Cooley B by a single point (3-9 to 2-11) while O’Raghallaighs/Plunketts had a convincing win over Glean Mhairtin B (4-15 to 1-8) in Tullyallen. Mattock Rangers will also operate in this division.
Division 3B saw many teams taking the field for the very first time, with newly established B teams in action and clubs entering adult Ladies teams for the first time. Its great to see so many new teams taking to the field in Co Louth as the ladies football game continues to grow in the county.