Longford Ladies got their National League campaign under way on Sunday last at the I.T. Sligo grounds against a Sligo side that they dismissed with some ease in last year’s All-Ireland Intermediate Championship but Diane O’Hora’s understrength side suffered a heavy defeat on this occasion.
Having gained promotion from Division 4 and being unbeaten in all league games in 2012, Longford should have approached this encounter with some confidence but with a number of regular experienced players missing and many others making their county debut this appeared to be a team in transition.
Sligo enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the opening ten minutes clocking up three consecutive points which included a couple of well taken frees. It would be well taken frees which kept the scoreboard ticking over and allowed Sligo to put the game well out of Longford’s reach by half-time.
Longford’s opening score’s came from the boot of Michelle Farrell. A well taken point from play and an expertly placed penalty gave Longford a 1 point advantage but they only had the upper hand for a short while as Sligo took advantage of some slack defending to fire home their first goal of the game.
Sligo added a further two goals in the final minutes of the first half and by the interval the home county had clocked up 3-10. Playing against a punishing wind, Longford could only manage a point from play from Orla Noonan and a Claire Greene free to end up with 1-3.
The sides shared the spoils more equally in the second half notching up four points apiece. Longford’s scores came through the boot of Claire Greene and Emer Kiernan with Sarah Tierney adding the final two.
While enjoying more of the possession in the second half, Longford were unable to convert into scores and failed to take advantage of the strong wind in their favour or their ten minutes with an extra player when Sligo’s corner forward was yellow carded for a high challenge on Mairead Moore.
Sligo fired home a fourth goal in the dying minutes of the game to seal Longford’s fate and leave their mentors much to ponder before progressing to Round 2 against Tipperary at the Killoe grounds on Sunday next, throw-in 2pm.
Under immense pressure throughout Longford’s Mairead Moore and Michelle Noonan were impressive and steady in defence. Returning to the panel after a short absence St. Helen’s Aisling O’Hara worked hard at centrefield and although having to play out of position for much of the game Longford captain Sharon Treacy put in her usual gritty and leader-like performance.
LONGFORD: Sinead Corrigan; Amanda Matthews, Marie Brady, Mairead Moore; Michelle Noonan, Lauren Farrell, Louise Mollaghan; Aisling O’Hara, Sharon Treacy; Lisa Mooney, Sarah Tierney(0-2), Claire Greene (0-2); Ann Marie Bratten, Orla Noonan (0-1), Michelle Farrell (1-1).
Subs:- Mairead Reynolds for L Farrell (21 mins); Amy Creegan for A Matthews (27 mins); Monica Bannon for S Corrigan (half-time); Emer Kiernan (0-1) for C Greene (36 mins).