Comfortable victory for Louth in Offaly

Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3 Round 2

Louth 2-12 Offaly 0-07

Offaly are still awaiting their first win in Division 3 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League after a more potent and physically stronger Louth team enjoyed a comfortable victory at Bretland Park, Clara last Sunday.

Goals from player of the match Lauren Boyle and Aoife Halligan inside the opening quarter laid the foundations for the visitors’ win as Offaly suffered their second defeat of the campaign, having also lost away to Wexford in the opening round. While the scoreline was slightly harsh on the Faithful County who missed a number of scoreable frees, there was no doubting Louth’s superiority, especially in the scoring and physical stakes. Boyle, Laura Collins and Kate Flood combined for 1-10, while Kit Henry’s side were noticeably bigger and stronger.

By contrast, all of Offaly’s scores came from two defenders – the excellent Nicole Farrelly and Emer Nally, who took over the free-taking duties after Saorah Walsh uncharacteristically missed a couple of routine frees in the early stages. As in the defeat to Wexford, they badly missed the guile and experience of Annie Kehoe, Ellee McEvoy, Mairead Daly, Aoife Carey, Sarah Kehoe, Dawn Hannon and Imelda Fleming who aren’t currently part of the panel. Matters were compounded here by the absence of Emma Hand, who scored one of their two goals in Enniscorthy.

When these teams last met in the Leinster Intermediate Championship in Dunleer last May, Louth won a thriller by a point, but this time the result was never in much doubt as the Wee County followed up on their opening round win over Longford. After posting a couple of early wides, they opened the scoring with a well-worked goal in the seventh minute.

Lauren Boyle collected Kate Flood’s brilliant  kick pass before picking her spot in the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Laura Collins and Boyle were both on target from frees before alert midfielder Aoife Halligan capitalised on Kelley Cunningham’s misplaced kickout to raise Louth’s second green flag in the 13th minute. Collins’ second point left the visitors sitting pretty on a 2-3 to 0-0 lead at the end of a one-sided opening quarter.

Nicole Farrelly finally opened Offaly’s account in the 16th minute before captain Roisin Ennis had a half-hearted appeal for a penalty turned down. There was no respite, however, for the charges of Brian Ó Ruairc and Danny McGarvey as further scores from Flood, Collins (free) and Mia Duffy extended Louth’s lead to 2-6 to 0-1.

After Saorah Doyle had registered Offaly’s first wide from a free, Emer Nally had better luck when she assumed the place-kicking duties. The corner back from Naomh Ciaran converted three frees in the last five minutes of the half, while the inside of the post denied substitute Annie Heavin a badly-needed Offaly goal as the winners went into the break with a 2-6 to 0-4 lead.

The hosts needed a good start to the second period to have a chance, but instead Louth got it with points from Collins (free) and Boyle, which came either side of a yellow card for Saoirse McGuinness, who was sent to the sin bin for a trip on Mia Duffy.

Despite being down to 14 players for 10 minutes, Offaly rallied with three unanswered points from Farrelly (following a beautiful cross-field pass from Doyle) and Nally (two frees) to reduce the gap to seven, 0-7 to 2-8, with 10 minutes remaining.

But they wouldn’t score again as Louth finished with a flourish. Flood, Boyle (from a huge free) and Collins (two frees) all split the posts to give their promotion push further momentum. Offaly, on the other hand, are facing a battle to avoid a quick return to Division 4 on the evidence of this performance.

For the record, Offaly registered seven wides compared to Louth’s six.

Scorers – Louth: Lauren Boyle 1-3 (2fs), Laura Collins 0-6 (5fs), Aoife Halligan 1-0, Kate Flood 0-2, Mia Duffy 0-1. Offaly: Emer Nally 0-5 (5fs), Nicole Farrelly 0-2.

Louth: Rebecca Lambe-Fagan; Eimear Murray, Caoimhe Boyle, Rachel Berth; Aoife Russell, Shannen McLoughlin, Caitlin O’Reilly; Aoife Halligan, Aine Breen; Mia Duffy, Grace Traynor, Lauren Boyle; Ceira Nolan, Kate Flood, Laura Collins. Subs: Niamh Rice for Traynor (20 min), Katie Donaghy for Nolan (30 min), Dearbhla O’Connor for Boyle (half-time), Hannah O’Neill for O’Reilly (43 min), Eilish Hand for Russell (45 min), Roisin Maguire for Boyle (55 min), Michelle O’Hagan for Flood (58 min).

Offaly: Kelley Cunningham; Kaytlin Flynn, Ava Dolan, Emer Nally; Nicole Farrelly, Emma Maher, Michelle Mann; Ciara Walsh, Roisin Ennis; Amy Gavin-Mangan, Becca O’Connor, Saoirse McGuinness; Saorah Doyle, Marie Byrne, Kiah Farrelly. Subs: Annie Heavin for O’Connor (20 min), Becky Bryant for Flynn (40 min), Anna Grehan for Doyle (40 min), Doyle for Gavin-Mangan (60 min).

Referee – Aaron Clogher (Roscommon).

Report by Dermot Woods | Photos by craic-a-smile photography