Wins for Tyrone, Cavan and Antrim in Ladies Football Leagues while Ulster girls win Interprovincial title
THE opening round of the 2018 Lidl National Football Leagues saw wins for Tyrone, Cavan and Antrim in what was a mixed bag for the Ulster sides across the four divisions.
In Division One, Donegal welcomed All-Ireland champions Dublin to Letterkenny but could not stop them from leaving with two points in the bag after a 0-7 to 2-5, the first half goals the difference as the sides shared seven scores each.
Donegal captain Karen Guthrie finished with five points and Yvonne Bonnar two points but with Geraldine McLaughlin absent and Bonnar playing deep, Maxi Curran and Damien Devenney's side lacked real fire power up front.
Camera by Kieran McMullen, Video by Jerome Quinn Media for the LGFA
The home side never recovered from those two first half majors, Niamh McEvoy with the first on 20 minutes and Rebecca McDonnell with the second shortly after to give the visitors a 2-2 to 0-2 lead at half-time, Guthrie with Donegal's two first half scores, both from frees.
Donegal did win the second half, 0-5 to 0-3, with Guthrie and Bonnar on target but Dublin were always in control with Carla Rowe, Eabha Rutledge and Oonagh Whyte keeping the scoreboard ticking over.
Monaghan fell to defeat in Galway losing out 4-10 to 2-6. At half-time the home side were well in control and led 4-5 to 2-2 and while the second half was more evenly matched, the Farney county could not make inroads into the damage that had been done in the first half.
The Ulster side did make the better start and a goal from the penalty spot from Louise Kerley gave them an early lead but with the wind at their backs, Galway hit an unanswered 3-3, Ailbhe Davoren, Tracey Leonard and Leanne Coen with the goals, within a 14 minute period to gain control.
Rosemary Courtney ended an 18 minute barren spell for the visitors but Galway immediately found the back of the net again through Mairead Seoighe. Shauna Coyle gave Monaghan something to cheer about when she raised the green flag and at the break 10 points separated the sides.
Monaghan had the wind at their backs for the second half but could not make inroads, a 41st minute sin bin to full back Hazel Kingham not helping as Tracey Leonard and Louise Ward kept Galway in control with points.
Kerley, one of Monaghan's most lively players, did add to her tally as did Rosemary Courtney but it wasn't enough and Galway finished with a 10 point win.
In Division Two, Cavan got their push for promotion off to the best start possible with a 2-13 to 0-8 win over Laois as did Tyrone, who recorded a 4-11 to 2-11 win over Waterford, the Red Hands goals coming from young stars Maria Canavan, Naomh Hughes and Chloe McCaffrey and Neamh Woods with the other.
For Cavan, Bronagh Sheridan and Aisling Doonan were on goal target for James Daly as he began his new tenure with at win.
Cavan always led against their Leinster opposition and at half time were 1-5 to 0-4 to the good, a late three points for the home side reducing the gap back to three and it was back to two after the resumption. But that was as close as they would get and Cavan tagged on more points from Doonan,
Sheridan and Sinead McKenna to built up a 1-10 to 0-6 lead with Doonan's late goal adding further gloss to the scoreline.
Armagh fell by two points, 2-12 to 2-10, to last year's All-Ireland intermediate champions Tipperary, who have started 2018 as they finished 2017 unbeaten.
The Orchard County will feel this was certainly one that got away as they led 2-7 to 1-6 into the second half, but an unanswered 1-6 saw Tipperary claw back that four point lead and move ahead and for Armagh, they just could not get back into it.
The Ulster side made a superb start and by the 12 minute led 2-3 to 0-1, Aoife McCoy and Aimee Mackin with the goals but a strong finish to the half by Tipperary in which they hit 1-2 brought them back into it and left a goal between them at the break, 2-4 to 1-4.
Mackin and Fionnuala McKenna extended Armagh's lead to six after the resumption but that was cancelled out and although McCoy added another point, then came the Tipperary fightback.
Mackin, McKenna and Mcakin again did help Armagh to finish with three points but it was too late as time ran out and Armagh's return to Division Two ended with defeat.
In Divison Three, Down lost out 4-12 to 2-2 to Meath while in Divison Four, Antrim recorded an excellent 3-10 to 2-9 win over All-Ireland junior champions Fermanagh. The sides were level at half-time 2-5 apiece in a game that saw Antrim build up an early lead 2-5 to 0-1 but Fermanagh finish the half strong with 1-4 without reply.
Antrim moved two in front after the resumption but Fermanagh hit three of their own to take the lead, Shauna Hamilton, Blaithin Bogue and Roisin Reilly on target.
However, a strong finish to the game, this time for Antrim, with 1-4 of their own, gave the visitors the two points and sent out a strong message to the rest of the Division Four teams with their promotion intent for 2018.
Derry lost out to Wicklow 2-20 to 0-5 away from home.
Division 1: Donegal 0-7 Dublin 2-5, Galway 4-10 Monaghan 2-6, Kerry 0-9 Cork 2-17, Mayo 0-11 Westmeath 0-7
Division 2: Armagh 2-10 Tipperary 2-12, Clare 0-13 Laois 2-6, Laois 0-8 Cavan 2-11, Tyrone 4-11 Waterford 2-11
Division 3: Longford 2-5 Wexford 3-10, Meath 4-13 Down 2-2, Roscommon 5-14 Offaly 0-8
Division 4: Carlow 1-4 Limerick 1-4, Fermanagh 2-9 Antrim 3-10, Kilkenny 1-1 Louth 7-24, Wicklow 2-20 Derry 0-5
Lidl Post Primary Schools Interprovincial Championships
ULSTER’s schoolgirls displayed real grit and determination on their way to retaining the Lidl Post Primary Schools Interprovincial Championship title at Kinnegad on Saturday.
The province is fast making a name for itself and these players seems to be following in the steps of the senior squad, who have had a firm grip on the Mick Talbot Cup for the last handful of years.
Under the tutelage of Gary Mallon, Ciaran Murtagh, Ronan McCarthy, Ciara Donnelly, Gerry Doherty and Paul Swift, the 30-strong squad had to dig deep in the final against Munster, who had defeated them in the round-robin games earlier that day, to see them off in a low scoring 2-1 to 0-4 encounter.
Dearbhla Coleman and Maria Canavan’s goals, one in either half, proved the difference as players on both sides had to contend with a strong wind making conditions difficult.
Ulster with the wind advantage in the first half led at the break by the smallest of margins, 1-1 to 0-3.
Canavan opened the scoring with a point but then Munster took the lead with three points from their captain Fiadhna Tagney.
However, with Coleman at full-forward causing the Munster defence some difficulty, Ulster edged themselves back into the lead when the St Ronan’s Lurgan player found the back of the net for the game’s first goal.
Neither side gave much away in the second half and despite Munster having the wind on their backs, they managed just a single point through Aine O’Dwyer by which stage Ulster led 2-1 to 0-3.
The decisive score came from Canavan when she found the back of the net from the penalty spot after Louise Kerley was fouled and Sarah Leahy subsequently sin-binned for Munster.
Ulster began the day with a victory over Leinster in the group stages, winning 2-8 to 1-5, the goals coming from Orlaith Prenter and Michelle Magee, with Canavan hitting three points.
Their next game, against Munster, ended in defeat, 1-8 to 0-3 – the scoreline somewhat flattering to the winners. That defeat too came at a cost as Ulster lost goalkeeper Caoimhe Meeke when she collided with a post.
The final game against Connacht saw Ulster put in a magnificent performance, winning 2-9 to 1-2, to seal their place in the decider with goals from Shannon McLaughlin and Aine Devlin.
For the last two years now, Ulster’s hard work on the training field has paid dividends, although Ciaran Murtagh admits that preparations this time around were not as good because of poor weather.
“We probably didn’t come into this year’s tournament as well as prepared as we would have liked and we knew as defending champions we were up there to be knocked down,” he said.
“So to defend our title and the way in which we won it, against a very, very good Munster team, is very satisfying. It was a tough final but the players stood up and for the final five or six minutes, while it’s not ideal we kept the ball and stayed firm and closed the game out.”
The 2018 squad featured almost half of last year’s winning squad – 14 as all nine counties were again represented from 21 schools across the province. Armagh’s Cait Towe, who plays for St Ronan’s Lurgan captained the side and once again she was at the heart of the defence with some standout performances also from Michelle Magee at midfield, Morgan NicCionna, Maria Canavan and in particular from Our Lady’s Castleblayney Jayne Drury.
A number of the squad also lined out for their counties on Sunday as the National Football Leagues got under way.
Canavan starred for Tyrone in their opening round Division Two league victory over Waterford scoring 1-5, Louise Kerley hit 1-4 for Monaghan, who fell to defeat to Galway, with Blaithin Bogue and Orlaith Prenter lining out for Fermanagh and Antrim respectively.
Ulster: Caoimhe Meeke (St Mary’s Magherafelt), Katie Mulligan (St Clare’s Ballyjamesduff), Meabh Corrigan (St Ciaran’s Ballygawley), Niamh Keenaghan (Loreto Cavan), Aine Devlin (St Louis’ Ballymena), Maria Canavan (St Ciaran’s Ballygawley), Katie Duffy (Ballybay Community College), Caoimhe Callaghan(Aquinas Belfast), Shanice Fitzsimons (St Clare’s Ballyjamesduff), Caoimhe Magee (St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon), Blaithin Bogue (Mount Lourdes Enniskillen), Caitlin Kelly (Loreto Omagh), Orlaith Prenter (St Mary’s Magherafelt), Meabh McCambridge (St Ronan’s Lurgan), Emily Falloon (St Louise’s Belfast), Dearbhla Coleman (St Ronan’s Lurgan), Seanan Nic Lochlainn (Colaiste Ailigh, Letterkenny), Niamh Kerr (Our Lady’s Castleblayney), Morgan NicCionna (Colaiste Oiriall), Louise Kerley (St Louis Carrickmacross), Jayne Drury (Our Lady’s Castleblayney), Michelle Magee (St Dominic’s Belfast), Sarah Harkin (St Columba’s Glenties), Elisha Donnelly (St Ronan’s Lurgan), Niamh Reel (Sacred Heart Newry), Cait Towe (St Ronan’s Lurgan), Maeve Blaney (Our Lady and St Patrick’s Knock), Mya Alcorn (Loreto Secondary School Letterkenny), Jennifer Duffy (Our Lady’s Castleblayney), Megan McCann( St Ronan’s Lurgan) Maria Hanna (St Dominic’s Belfast)
Round 1: Connacht 1-2 Munster 3-11, Ulster 2-8 Leinster 1-5
Round 2: Connacht 2-4 Leinster 3-7, Munster 1-8 Ulster 0-3
Round 3: Connacht 1-2 Ulster 2-9, Munster 3-5 Leinster 2-4
Shield Final: Connacht 3-5 Leinster 1-5
Cup Final: Munster 0-4 Ulster 2-1