Leitrim ladies team got their Bórd Gáis National Football League Division 3 campaign off to a flying start at Páirc Sheán Ui Heslin in Ballinamore on Sunday afternoon with an emphatic 16 point win over Down.
by David Goulden
Áine Tighe’s three goals and six points lent considerable weight to a magnificent performance from a Leitrim side who erased the pain of last year’s defeat to the same opposition on the final day of the league group stage, a defeat which put a halt to their progression in the 2011 competition.
Leitrim started the game well, going two points up in the first four minutes courtesy of two Áine Tighe frees either side of a Kerry Laverty chance two minutes in, which the Down full forward failed to convert. The first came after her namesake Niamh Tighe was fouled in front of goal in the first minute and the second on four minutes, after Erin Farrell was fouled by Down’s Lisa Devlin. Michelle Guickan, who had a fine game in the Leitrim goal, pulled off a fantastic save on six minutes as she blocked down Kyla Trainor’s low shot after she was supplied by centre back Hannah Murray. Indeed, three minutes later Guickan was performing miracles again as Trainor and Natasha Ferris combined to go around two Leitrim defenders. Trainor’s shot was again kept low, but Guickan got enough of her body behind the ball to deflect it away. Down got their first score on nine minutes as they went a point ahead. Ferris again causing problems for Leitrim’s defence as Guickan could nothing about her low drive for Down’s only goal of the game.
Áine Tighe passed up a chance to instantly reply a minute later as she received a fist pass from Lorraine Brennan, dodged two Down defenders, but sent her shot wide of the post.
Laverty was on hand again for Down in the 11th minute when Kyla Trainor found her 20 yards out. Laverty looked up, saw the Leitrim posts and hit the target to put her side two points clear. It didn’t take long for Leitrim to reply and when Catherine Dolan played the ball over the top for Áine Tighe to run on to, there was only ever going to be one result as Tighe slipped the ball past Tasha Hamilton to put Leitrim back in the lead only 30 seconds later.
The next ten minutes saw Leitrim begin to pull away as Tighe, Dolan and right half forward Ciara Keegan all contributed a point each before Guickan again denied the ladies from the Mourne County as she threw herself in front of a vicious shot on 21 minutes, this time from Laverty.
Leitrim were beginning to enjoy the occasion and were finding a lot of success through the middle of the pitch, Sinead Fowley in particular was getting the better of her opposite number Roisín Torney.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.