See also report by dundalksport.ie
Catriona Davis converted two frees in the ninth and tenth minute of added on time to give Limerick a winning start against Louth in Askeaton on Sunday (3rd Feb) afternoon.
In a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland Junior final, played in difficult underfoot conditions Louth despite playing against a strong breeze started in impressive fashion and raced into an early lead with Lauren Boyle and Rebecca Carr both on target. With Louth in the ascendancy they had further chances to extend their lead before Limerick had their first score in the ninth minute as a late tackle by a Louth defender resulted in a close in free which was sent over by Davis. Louth continued to play the better football and hit the next three scores all well taken courtesy of Flood, Boyle and Susan Byrne to lead 0.5 to 0.1 after 20 minutes.
Limerick then enjoyed their best spell and reduced the margin to the minimum as Davis fired over three frees before the impressive Rebecca Delee brought the sides level with a fine effort, their only score from play in the opening 30 minutes. The Leinster Champions were back in front soon after as a superb Lauren Boyle pass found Kate Flood and the St. Patrick’s star shot over to give her side a narrow 0.6 to 0.5 lead at half time.
Teenage star Lauren Boyle added another point on the restart but Limerick went in front for the first time as Loretta Hanley’s pass found dual star Rebecca Delee in space and the Castlemahon star who lined out with the Treaty county 24 hours earlier in a camogie league game against Clare rifled to the back of the net to make it 1-5 to 0-7 after 36 minutes.
Louth responded strongly and were again level as Boyle pointed before Davis again calmly slotted over a free at the other end. Both Boyle and Davis swapped points before Susan Byrne got involved with the scoring action to leave the teams level heading into stoppage time. Moments later, Limerick seemed to have secured the victory as Caroline Hickey’s vicious shot appeared bound for the corner of the net but Una Pearson did brilliantly to touch Hickey’s shot on to the post. Louth responded immediately as Kate Flood put her side back in front in the third minute of added on time with a close-range free at the other end. Darren Bishop’s side were unable to maintain possession and with nine minutes stoppage time having been played it was again Catriona Davis who pointed to bring the sides level again.
From the resultant kick out and the game entering the 10th minute of stoppage time, Louth were penalized when Una Pearson’s short pass was picked up by a defender who was deemed to have not retreated the required thirteen metres giving Davis the chance to kick over her eighth free of the afternoon to win the game in dramatic fashion for the hosts and break Louth hearts.
Speaking after the game, Limerick Ladies Football manager, John Ryan, spoke of his his delight with the victory over a strong Louth side, in a game he felt luck was on his side.
“We were very, very slow to start,” he said. “They got ahead of us. Louth came here with a purpose – they wanted to win this. The papers had said during the week that they [Louth] wanted to win the league and they proved it here today – there is nothing between these two sides. If you look back at the All-Ireland, we probably caught them at Croke Park but they came to Askeaton with a purpose.
“They were very well setup – their backs were very well setup and basically to get out of jail here today [Sunday] was excellent. I have to compliment my own girls because they fought on their backs in the last five minutes and that was tough. Catriona Davis putting over that last free was something else. She is an excellent free taker, an excellent attitude and when she came in last year we worked with her and she has turned in to one of the best free takers in the country at the moment. Even if it was a senior men’s game here, the way she stood over those two frees was excellent.”
Raising concerns over his side’s lack of points from play, John Ryan pinpointed this as a significant focus for his team in the weeks ahead. “We need to get more from our inside forward line. That is what we need to work on straight away.”
Louth manager Darren Bishop must be wondering how referee Barry Redmond felt the need to play an additional 10 minutes of stoppage time. There was only two players who required the attention of the physio for short spells in the second half and the decision of the Wexford official to disallow what appeared a perfectly legitimate goal when Kate Flood fisted a high dropping ball to the Limerick net for a “square ball” offence came at a crucial stage of the second half. What will please the Cremartin clubman most probably that his defensive plan worked very well, restricting last year All-Ireland champions to just 1.01 from play
“I felt it was a very positive run out all be it the the score wasn’t the way we wanted we know what we are capable of. I felt we matched Limerick in every area of the pitch and unfortunately our own mistakes cost us in the end. We have plenty to work on and the girls are fully aware of that. We had an opportunity today to give some of our new new panel members a run which again is a positive as it adds depth to the squad. The most important thing is that we improve again next weekand, and that we have learned from today” said Louth boss Darren Bishop afterwards.
LIMERICK: Marie Lyons; Kristine Reidy, Sarah O’Sullivan, Ava Hartigan; Megan O’Shea, Katie Heelan, Cathy Mee; Loretta Hanley; Caroline Hickey; Cliodhna Ni Cheallaigh, Rebecca Delee (1–1), Roisin Ambrose, Olivia Giltenane, Caitriona Davis (0–8, 8f), Mairead Kavanagh. Subs: Andrea O’Sullivan for C Ni Cheallaigh; Kristy Carroll for Mairead Kavanagh.
LOUTH: Una Pearson; Eilis Hand, Michelle McMahon, Shannen McLoughlin; Aoife Russell, Ceire Nolan, Sinead Woods; Eimear Byrne, Aoife Byrne; Rebecca Carr (0–1), Susan Byrne (0–1), Jenny McGuinness (0–1); Lauren Boyle (0–6), Kate Flood (0–2, 1f), Ciara Woods. Subs: Niamh Rice for J McGuinness; Aimee McNally for C Woods; Deirbhile Osborne for E Hand; Rachel McNally for R Carr.
REFEREE: Barry Redmond (Wexford).