Longford Ladies advanced in their efforts to book a place in the Tesco Homegrown National Football League semi-finals with an impressive win over neighbours Leitrim. Longford Outscored the visitors 8 points to 1 in the opening 20 minutes of this encounter with outstanding forward Michelle Farrell popping over two excellent scores from play along with four frees from four attempts.
Siobhan M Gowan and Emer Kiernan had also added their names to the scoresheet in this period before Longford were handed what could have been a devastating blow when Michelle Farrell was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on her Leitrim opponent.
To the complete surprise of the Longford mentors and supporters Farrell left the play after non-intentionally connecting high with Leitrim’s Claire Owens – a challenge which on another day would have warranted a 10 minute stay in the sin bin, but on this occasion sees Minor captain Farrell missing next Sunday’s final league encounter with Armagh and Longford Minors last outing in the championship group stages against Laois on Easter Monday.
Longford still managed to finish out the first half the stronger with centre-half-back and captain Sharon Treacy scoring two points from play in the closing stages, leaving the home county with a commanding 0-10 to 0-1 lead at half- time.
Even more notable considering Longford had played the majority of the first half with only 14 players as tenacious wing back Mairead Moore had spent 10 minutes in the sin bin just prior to Michelle Farrell’s dismissal.
Longford came into the second half with the challenge of maintaining their comfortable lead and playing against a strong wind. 13 minutes of play passed before Leitrim’s Aine Tighe opened the second half scoring. Longford were forced to defend tirelessly and despite not scoring, their ability to keep possession and error free ball handling denied Leitrim’s hopes of a comeback.
Longford’s free taking was badly affected by the wind and Claire Greene and Sarah Tierney’s two attempts each both went wide of the mark. In response Leitrim could only muster two scores from Aine Tighe in the 24th and 29th minute. The expected threat of Tighe never materialised in this game with experienced full-back Marie Brady holding her to one point from play, an example of the efforts of all of Longford’s defenders who were resolute and hard working for the full 60 minutes. Half forwards Claire Greene and Sarah Tierney also worked hard in dictating play and retaining possession when Leitrim so desperately needed to take control.
Longford currently lie third in division three of the league, a position that is under serious threat depending on results in next weekend’s final round. Longford face current All-Ireland Intermediate Champions Armagh (time and venue to be confirmed) and they will be looking to avenge the defeat which denied them a place in last year’s All-Ireland Final.
LONGFORD: Monica Bannon, Leanne Keegan, Marie Brady, Mairead Moore, Louise Monaghan, Sharon Treacy (0-2), Michelle Noonan, Jacinta Brady, Elizabeth Brady, Michelle Farrell (0-6, 4 frees) Siobhan Mc Gowan (0-1), Sarah Tierney, Anne Marie Bratten, Emer Kiernan (0-1), Aoife Darcy.
Subs:- Claire Greene for S McGowan (13 mins); Aisling O’Hara for AM Bratten (24 mins); AM Bratten for E Kiernan (half-time), Emer Heaney for AM Bratten (58 mins).
LEITRIM: Michelle Guckian, Mary Farrell, Enya McWeeney, Sharon Kerrigan, Claire Owens, Mairead Stenson, Kirby Gilligan, Sinead Fowley, Anna Conlon, Laura O’Dowd, Deirdre Ward, Aine Heslin, Roisin Fowley, Erin Farrell, Aine Tighe (0-4, 3 frees),