Lidl Ladies’ NFL Division Four previews: Fermanagh meet Leitrim in top-of-the-table clash

Leitrim are one of the favourites for the league title having reached the final last year and based on their form even this early in the season

Joanne Doonan
In the nick of time: Joanne Doonan will be involved with Fermanagh this season after a stint in Australia (Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)
Lidl NFL Division Four round four
Fermanagh v Leitrim (Sunday, Donagh, 2pm)

IT’S a top-of-the-table clash between leaders Leitrim and second placed Fermanagh as the Division Four league enters its midway point.

Both sides are unbeaten after three rounds, Leitrim have a full quota of nine points while Fermanagh have two wins, over Longford and Wicklow, and a draw with Carlow sandwiched in between from their outings so far.

Leitrim are one of the favourites for the league title having reached the final last year and based on their form even this early in the season. Fermanagh certainly would like to challenge Leitrim for that title and are on course to reach the knockout stages – a place in the semi-finals – and indeed the sides could well meet again before the league competition reaches its conclusion but there is still plenty of football to be played before then.

It has been a good start to the season for Erne manager CJ McGourty in his first season in charge especially as he balances getting to know the players, blooding new players, introducing new systems and of course trying to win football matches.

“We are happy with where we are in the league, seven points from nine, it is pretty good going. Conditions haven’t been easy for any team to play in this far in the league. We remain unbeaten with two wins and a draw, and I suppose for a new management team, getting to use new players, seeing different players in different positions, trying new systems,” said McGourty.

“Overall, definitely a successful start but we are looking to build on that coming into the next four or five games and obviously into the championship as well.”

He is looking forward to seeing his players pit themselves against an impressive Leitrim side, and while he hopes to get the win, if they don’t, they will take it on the chin and move on.

“This weekend against Leitrim is a massive, massive challenge. They are throwing up really, really big scores, they are scoring lots of goals, they have a lot of marquee forwards, they have been on the road longer than ourselves, in terms of a collective group and management team that have been in place for two or three years now.

They were in the final against Antrim last year. Leitrim have a lot of positives and they are coming into the match with a lot of confidence having won three from three and scoring really really well,” he said.

“We know it will be a massive challenge on Sunday and we are looking forward to it and give us a base of where we are at. We will probably play Leitrim a couple of times this year between league and championship so it’s a big game but it’s not a season defining game.

It’s another 60 minutes to see where we are at and see exactly what girls can do playing against quality opposition. We are going to have to try and reduce their scoring rate somehow and see where that takes us. I wouldn’t be overly worried about the result on Sunday, it’s not season defining but we are looking to win all games if possible.”

Tomorrow (2pm)

Division Three round 3:

Sligo v Down

Louth v Offaly

Clare v Roscommon

Wexford v Antrim