Longford ladies made it four wins in a row to advance to the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship semi-finals with a deserved win over Sligo in their final group game at Emmet Park in Killoe on Saturday last.
Diane O’Hora’s charges produced a great display in controlling the game from start to finish. Longford had early chances to open the scoring but kicked a number of wides. They eventually got off the mark in the 8th minute with a point from Paula Kenny. They couldn’t add to that and Sligo levelled in the 14th minute with a point from Elaine O’Reilly.
From the kick-out Longford went down the field and when Paula Kenny’s cracking shot came off the crossbar, it eventually fell to Claire Greene who pointed. Greene had a goal chance one minute later but brought a save out of Sligo keeper Noelle Gormally but the loose ball fell to Aisling Reynolds and she got Longford’s third point.
Two minutes later and Aoife Darcy got her name on the scoresheet with a nice point and it was all Longford at this stage. In the 23rd minute Edel Quinn got her first point but the low drive could have dipped under for a goal. Anne Marie Bratten, Jacinta Brady and Claire Greene (free) added more scores to give Longford a seven point lead by the 28th minute.
Elise Codd and Emma Hansberry grabbed points for Sligo to cut the deficit to five points but two Claire Greene scores (one free) restored Longford’s commanding advantage going in at the break, leading by 0-10 to 0-3.
Longford started the second half well and tagged on two more points through Jacinta Brady and Anne Marie Bratten. Elaine O’Reilly replied for Sligo before Longford hit back with two more scores. Anna McDonnell made sure every Longford forward was on the scoresheet in the 34th minute and then Edel Quinn got her second point to give Longford a 10 point advantage.
Sligo keeper Noelle Gormally, who was taken out of the goals at half-time and deployed as a forward, made a huge difference and she got her first point in the 35th minute when converting a free but Longford hit back with points from Claire Greene (free) and Aoife Darcy.
A goal and a point from Noelle Gormally and a point from Sinead McTiernan put six between the sides by the 46th minute. Claire Greene pointed another free three minutes later before Longford defender Marie Brady was harshly sinbinned in the 51st minute and Sligo began to come back into the game.
Two frees from Noelle Gormally cut the lead to five points a few minutes from time but Longford responded with fine scores from Anne Marie Bratten and Aisling Reynolds to settle the issue. Right at the end Emma Hansberry got Sligo’s second goal but it came too late to change the course of the game and Longford can now look forward to the All-Ireland semi-final on Saturday September 1st with Fermanagh, Armagh or Waterford possible opponents.
LONGFORD: Michelle Kilkenny; Michelle Noonan, Lizzie Brady, Mairead Moore; Marie Brady, Lauren Farrell, Sharon Trecey; Jacinta Brady (0-2), Aisling Reynolds (0-2); Paula Kenny (0-1), Edel Quinn (0-2), Anne Marie Bratten (0-3); Claire Greene (0-6, four frees), Aoife Darcy (0-2), Anna McDonnell (0-1).
Subs:- Orla Noonan for P Kenny (half-time); Sarah Tierney for A McDonnell (54 mins); Emer Kiernan for A Darcy (56 mins).
SLIGO: Noelle Gormally (1-4, four frees); Tracy O’Hara, Orla McGowan, Etna Flanagan; Siobhan Melvin, Nicole Fowley, Jaqui Mulligan; Bernie Byrne, Elise Codd (0-1); Aine Gormally, Sinead McKiernan (0-1), Karen Malloney; Elaine O’Reilly (0-2), Roisin Colleary, Emma Hansberry (1-1).
Subs:- Laura Goonan for A Gormally (26 mins); Sarah Reynolds for R Colleary (half-time); Lauren Bowles for K Malloney (45 mins).
Referee: Des McEnery (Westmeath).