Longford ladies cruise into National League Final

Three goals inside the opening five minutes set Longford on their way to a comprehensive victory over Offaly in the Ladies National Football League Division 4 semi-final at the St. Loman’s GAA Grounds in Mullingar on Sunday last.

It was a blistering start from the Longford ladies and it completely stunned Offaly. Diane O’Hora’s charges were really fired up and showed no mercy to their opponents in producing an impressive performance.

Just over 30 seconds had elapsed on the clock when Anne Marie Bratten fired home Longford’s first goal. About 40 seconds later Longford registered their opening point through Orla Noonan.

In the third minute Longford got their second goal; Edel Quinn finishing off a nice move. Quinn got the third goal one minute later from a penalty after the Killoe girl was pushed off the ball when going through.

Offaly tried to hit back but Michelle Kilkenny brought off a fine save to deny Lorraine Kenna in the 5th minute. Three minutes later the Faithful County got their first score; a free from Therese Hickey.

Longford responded with a point from Edel Quinn as they began to dominate again, hitting over three more points through Anne Marie Bratten, Paula Kenny (free) and minor player Aisling Reynolds.

Offaly were struggling to make an impact, although they got their second score in the 14th minute, a free from Kym Furey, and minutes later their first point from play materialised through Mairead Daly.

Anne Marie Bratten had a chance to get her second goal in the 18th minute but hit the ball straight at Offaly keeper Kelly Cunningham. Aisling Reynolds then hit over her second point for Longford in the 19th minute before Daly was on target again for Offaly.

In the 26th minute Offaly were awarded a penalty and Mairead Daly stepped up to convert the kick, although Longford keeper Michelle Kilkenny got her fingertips to the ball in a brave bid to keep her net intact.

Longford started the second half like they did the first and inside the opening three minutes had fired over two more scores; substitute Claire Greene converting a couple of frees, before Offaly got another point in the 36th minute when Lorraine Kenna shot over the bar.

A fantastic point from Claire Greene and two points from Anne Marie Bratten extended Longford’s commanding lead. Substitute Michelle Farrell (another minor player) then got her name on the scoresheet in the 43rd minute before Aisling Reynolds registered her third point. Farrell was then denied minutes later by Offaly keeper Kelly Cunningham who prevented a fourth goal for Longford.

Offaly then got two points in quick succession through Lorraine Kenna (free) and Claire O’Brien but Longford hit back with an excellent effort from Claire Greene. Kenna got Offaly’s last score of the game in the 56th minute but Longford were not finished yet and further points from Claire Greene (free), Michelle Farrell and Aisling Reynolds completed the rout as the county cruised into the Division 4 League Final against Limerick.

LONGFORD: Michelle Kilkenny; Geraldine McManus, Mairead Moore, Yvonne Barden; Lizzie Brady, Lauren Farrell, Sharon Treacy; Jacinta Brady, Aisling Reynolds (0-4); Anne Marie Bratten (1-3), Edel Quinn (2-1), Michelle Noonan; Paula Kenny (0-1, free), Orla Noonan (0-1), Anna McDonnell.

Subs used: - Sinead Farrell for G McManus (15 mins); Claire Greene (0-5, three frees) for Y Barden (half-time); Michelle Farrell (0-2) for P Kenny (38 mins); Patricia Reilly for O Noonan (42 mins).

OFFALY: Kelly Cunningham; Michelle Guinan, Christine McDonnell, Catriona McDonald; Niamh Malone, Siobhan Flannery, Orla Daly; Emma Dalton, Kym Furey (0-1, free); Emma Corcoran, Mairead Daly (1-2), Amy Kerrigan; Therese Hickey (0-1, free), Orlaigh Heavey, Lorraine Kenna (0-3, one free).

Subs used: - Alisha Hunston for T Hickey (25 mins); Evelyn Russell for N Malone (35 mins); Patrice Stapleton for O Heavey (46 mins); Claire O’Brien (0-1) for K Furey (46 mins); Maebh Colman for M Guinan (53 mins).

Referee: Paul Swift (Monaghan).