Kildare 0-7 Louth 1-5
Louth preserved their 100% record in the Lidl National Football League after a thrilling one-point victory over high-flying Kildare in a match played in perfect conditions in Newbridge on Sunday afternoon.
Kit Henry’s team have started the season superbly and this was another noteworthy success in front of a healthy crowd, a triumph which propels the Reds to outright leadership of Division 3.
Kate Flood’s goal proved decisive as the Wee women edged out the Lilies, who kept it very competitive throughout before the St Patrick’s clubwoman’s late point sealed the win for the visitors.
The winners, who have difficult games to come starting with a home tie against Wexford on Sunday, will be delighted with their start, although Kildare will rue their 14 wides and some questionable shot selection.
“We are really happy with the win,” said Louth captain Áine Breen afterwards.
“We dug deep towards the end to ensure we maintained the lead. The hardwork and determination the girls have put in over the past few months was so clear, especially towards the end of the match.
“Hopefully we can continue to improve and apply what we’ve been doing at training on to the pitch.”
Despite playing against the breeze, Kildare stared the better and after Lara Curran hit and an early wide, the home side had the first goal chance when Róisín Byrne’s shot rebounded off the bar and into the path of Ellen Dowling whose powerful drive was somehow kept out by Rebecca Lambe-Fagan in what was the first of many fine saves produced by the Louth No1.
Byrne had a second Kildare wide before Louth, in their first meaningful attack, had the opening score after Aoife Russell won possession and beat a couple of defenders before fisting over.
Growing in confidence and with Russell’s direct running causing major problems to the home backline, Louth had chances with the normally deadly Lauren Boyle missing two frees, before a wonderful 50-metre pass by Kate Flood found Laura Collins in space, only for the Newtown Blues star to be denied by an outstanding save by Mary Hulgraine. The home side took advantage of this reprieve just a minute later when Neasa Dooley had their first score after Louth needlessly lost possession.
After Ellen Dowling put Kildare ahead for the first time, the hosts seemed certain to add to their lead when Byrne found herself through on goal only to be thwarted by an incredible piece of last ditch defending as Eimear Murray managed to knock the ball off the centre-forward’s foot as she was about to shoot.
With defences on top, Boyle and Aoife Rattigan exchanged notches from frees before Russell had her second point to level the score 0-3 apiece after 25 minutes.
From the resultant kickout, Hulgraine went short and when she regained possession, Aoife Halligan immediately applied pressure and with the ’keeper under pressure, her clearance only reached Flood who floated over the stranded custodian to give Louth a fully deserved 1-3 to 0-3 interval cushion.
As in the opening half, it was the Lilies who began better but with their attackers shooting from difficult angles and under pressure from a superbly drilled opposition defence, they hit four wides early on.
The tie might have taken a decisive swing after 35 minutes when Louth substitute Niamh Rice, who made a telling contribution, darted through the Kildare defence and laid off to the supporting Collins who shot straight at the netminder.
Collins did restore her side’s three-point advantage soon after from a free but it was the home side who dominated possession for the next 15 minutes, though their inability to take their chances continued to haunt them.
Points by Rattigan and Dooley brought the sides level, but Kildare were reduced to 14 when Dooley was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Caitlin O’Reilly.
Both sides went in search of the winner and it was Flood who emerged the heroine, slotting over when under severe pressure from a couple of defenders.
In the six minutes of additional time, there was to be no comeback from Kildare as Louth impressively saw the game out, remaining calm and composed by retaining possession for long periods.
Kildare: Mary Hulgraine; Aoife Clifford, Laoise Lenehan, Lara Gilbert; Trina Duggan, Ruth Sargent, Sarah Munnelly; Grace Clifford, Aoife Rattigan 0-2; Claire Sullivan, Róisín Byrne 0-1, Amy Larn; Ellen Dowling 0-2, Neasa Dowling 0-2, Lara Curran.
Louth: Rebecca Lambe-Fagan; Eimear Murray, Eilis Hand, Rachel Beirth; Mia Duffy, Shannen McLaughlin, Caitlin O’Reilly; Aoife Halligan, Dearbhla O’Connor; Aoife Russell, 0-2, Kate Flood 1-1, Céire Nolan; Lauren Boyle 0-1, Áine Breen, Laura Collins 0-1. Subs: Niamh Rice, Lucy White, Hannah O’Neill, Abi Keenan.
Report by Dermot Woods | Photos by craic-a-smile Photography