Longford ladies made a winning start in the group stages of the All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship with an eight point victory over Tipperary at Emmet Park, Killoe on Sunday last.
Diane O’Hora’s charges dominated the game from start to finish but a good game of football was ruined on a number of occasions by Sligo referee Gus Chapman who made a number of strange decisions. He sin-binned Tipp’s Gillian O’Brien and Longford’s Marie Brady in the second half – Brady’s was harsh and then one minute later bizarrely showed a yellow card to Longford’s Jacinta Brady. O’Brien was lucky to stay on the field after she hauled Marie Brady to the ground five minutes from time. Sharon Treacy was also hit off the ball in the second half but no action was taken.
It was the visitors who got the first score in the 1st minute of the game; Edel Hanly pointed over her first free of the afternoon. One minute later and Longford drew level; Jacinta Brady with the pass and Edel Quinn with the point.
Longford then had chances to go in front but kicked three wides in a row. In the 4th minute Tipp’s Jennifer Grant forced a good save out of Longford keeper Michelle Kilkenny. Then Longford began to take a hold of the game; two frees from the boot of Claire Greene put them ahead by two points in the 7th minute
One minute later Longford got their first goal; Michelle Noonan did all the hard work and she laid the ball off to Sharon Treacy who had come running through and she finished to the net with a great strike. Three minutes later another point from Quinn extended Longford’s lead to six points.
Two frees from Hanly kept Tipp in it as they lived off Longford’s mistakes. A lovely point from Aisling Reynolds put Longford in front by five in the 19th minute.
But in the 22nd minute there was just one point in it; Edith Carroll finishing to the net after after the ball had come back off the crossbar. Hanly followed up with her fourth of the half. Longford made changes and both substitutes Michelle Farrell and Anna McDonnell made impacts when they were introduced.
McDonnell edged Longford ahead by two in the 23rd minute before Farrell found the range with a well-taken point. Further points from Jacinta Brady, Anne-Marie Bratten and Aoife Darcy gave Longford a six point advantage two minutes from the break but two late points from Carroll and Hanly (free) meant there was four in it at half-time; 1-10 to 1-6.
Longford started the second half brightly but just like the first, kicked three wides in a row and then in the 34th minute Michelle Farrell brought a save out of Tipp keeper Helen Kennedy. Despite Longford having most of the possession it was Tipp who registered the first score of the second half; another free from Hanly in the 35th minute. A free from Greene restored Longford’s four-point advantage before Brady and O’Brien were sin-binned in the 38th minute. Seconds later Jacinta Brady joined them; a rather strange decision from the ref.
Points were traded between Hanly and Greene before Bratten hit the post in the 48th minute. A point from O’Brien narrowed the gap to three in the 52nd minute but that was to be Tipp’s last score of the game as Longford turned on the style in the closing minutes of the game.
Orla Noonan did well to lay the ball off to Jacinta Brady in the 55th minute to put Longford ahead again by four. One minute later Bratten grabbed Longford’s second goal and Greene added another point to Longford’s score in additional time with her fifth point of the game. Up next for Longford is last year’s beaten All-Ireland Intermediate finalists Cavan on Saturday next.
LONGFORD: Michelle Kilkenny; Sinead Farrell, Elizabeth Brady, Mairead Moore; Marie Brady, Lauren Farrell, Sharon Treacy (1-0); Jacinta Brady (0-2), Aisling Reynolds (0-1); Michelle Noonan, Anne-Marie Bratten (1-1), Edel Quinn (0-2); Claire Greene (0-5, 4f), Aoife Darcy (0-1), Emer Kiernan.
Subs used:- Michelle Farrell (0-1) for S Farrell and Anna McDonnell (0-1) for Kiernan (20 mins); Orla Noonan for Darcy (36 mins); Geraldine McManus for M Noonan (53 mins).
TIPPERARY: Helen Kennedy; Caitriona Walsh, Claire Carroll, Sinead Delahunty; Katie Lyne, Sheelagh Carew, Barbara Ryan; Jennifer Grant, Aoife Ryan; Aine Staunton, Shauna Ryan, Gillian O’Brien (0-1); Edith Carroll (1-1), Samantha Lambert, Edel Hanly (0-7, 5f).
Subs used:- Treasa McGrath for Carew and Trish Hickey for S Ryan 43mins, Bernie Ryan for Staunton 45mins.
Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo).