Louth survived a major scare as they made it three wins from as many outings with a one-point victory over Sligo in Darver on Sunday last.
Louth 2-10 Sligo 2-09
Manager Kit Henry made five changes to the starting team that beat Offaly a week earlier but the team were cruising having dominated the opening half and looked like they were cantering to the three points on offer when leading by nine points at the break, and eight with the clock showing 52 minutes.
After early points by Lauren Boyle and Grace Treanor, Louth created the game’s first goalscoring opportunity when Laura Collins gained possession and passed to Mia Duffy, who spotted Lauren Boyle in space, but the reliable Cooley star saw her shot brilliantly kept out by ’keeper Ellen Maguire.
The Louth dominance continued with two wonderful, long-range efforts from the impressive Kate Flood and a Collins free.
From the resultant kickout, Flood won possession and her low shot nestled in the corner of the net. The St Patrick’s star added another well-taken point before Sligo finally got on the scoreboard courtesy of a Tara Philips free in the 25th minute. But it was the Reds who had the last say of the half as Boyle shot over four minutes later, giving her side a 1-7 to 0-1 lead at the break.
Whatever was said in the visitors’ dressing room during the break had the desired effect as they were much more competitive on the resumption. Although Boyle had the opening score after two minutes, Sligo replied strongly with points by Sarah Curley, Lisa Powell and Philips before sub Aoife Russell had Louth’s second score of the half in the 39th minute.
Sligo were given hope just a minute later when Leah Duff’s shot found its way into the Louth net. After Collins and Sinead Naughton swapped points, Louth then introduced Niamh Rice and the recently crowned senior club championhip player of the year immediately won possession and after a surging run, her precise pass found Collins who hit a sensational shot into the bottom corner of the net, giving Maguire no chance, to give the Reds what appeared to be an unassailable 2-10 to 1-5 lead.
That proved to be their last score, however, as Sligo threw off the shackles and hit an unanswered 1-4. Following a Caoimhe Connor point, the Yeats County were gifted two goalscoring opportunities via poor defensive clearances, with Duffy winning possession and firing inches wide from close range in the first instant.
From the resultant kickout, substitute Rachel O’Brien gained possession and lifted her shot over the stranded Kelly Cunningham and into an unguarded net. Soon after, Connor, with a point, reduced the deficit to the minimum and despite referee Paul McCaughey adding an additional seven minutes, the young Sligo team were unable to find the equaliser their second half display deserved.
Louth’s next outing is on February 19 when they travel to Newbridge to take on Kildare in a top of the table clash.
Louth: Kelly Cunningham; Eimear Murray, Caoimhe Boyle, Eilis Hand; Holly Lambe-Sally, Shannen McLaughlin, Cáitlin O’Reilly; Aoife Halligan, Dearbhla O’Connor; Mia Duffy, Grace Treanor 0-1, Áine Breen; Lauren Boyle 0-2, Kate Flood 1-3, Laura Collins 1-3 (0-3f). Subs: Aoife Russell 0-1, Rachel Beirth, Hannah O’Neill, Niamh Rice, Aideen Dunne.
Sligo: Ellen Maguire; Isabella Henry, Clare Dunne, Ciara Scanlon; Sarah Curley 0-1, Lisa Powell 0-1, Tara Breheny; Sarah Reynolds, Sineád Regan 0-1; Caoimhe Connor 0-2, Nicola Brennan, Leah Duffy 1-0; Tara Phillips 0-2 (1f), Sineád Naughton 0-1 (1f), Aoife Sarangis. Subs: Kate Hoey, Megan McCormack 0-1, Rachel O’Brien 1-0.
Referee: Peter McCaughey (Westmeath).
Report by Dermot Woods | Photos by Warren Matthews