The Leitrim ladies got their Tesco HomeGrown National Football League Div 3 campaign off to a good start with an impressive victory over a poor Wicklow in Dunlavin on Sunday last.
Leitrim have most of the core panel from last year and new manager Gerry Ballantine has introduced some new talent as well and they got the League off to a good start, showing good form and support play in the heavy underfoot conditions.
The win, admittedly against a weakened Wicklow, will boost Leitrim confidence ahead of more difficult tests ahead this year as the team performance was solid without being spectacular and the backline will see more difficult tests ahead.
Manager Gerry Ballantine while happy with the win knows only too well on the areas Leitrim will need to improve on. He will know a lot more about his charges this Sunday when Leitrim take on Wexford in a home game.
Wicklow almost goaled from the throw-in as Michelle Guckian had to be at her best to tip a Lucy Mulhall shot onto the crossbar with Erin Murphy pointing for the home. Leitrim responded quickly with a Roisin Fowley point after good work from Deirdre Ward, Kirby Gilgunn & Aine Heslin.
After Aine Tighe was denied a goal, Aine Heslin pointed to put Leitrim ahead and Leitrim didn’t have long to wait for a goal with Niamh Tighe finishing a well worked move for the first goal of the game. Lucy Mulhall replied with a Wicklow point in the 9th minute but a Mairead Stenson interception led to Aine Tighe scoring a goal.
Leitrim were dominating but on a rare attack for Wicklow, Michelle Guckian pulled of a wonderful save from Laura Hogan but Leitrim went straight up the field in a fvie player move that was finished with aplomb by Aine Tighe. By half time the game was over has a contest as Leitrim lead 2-12 to 0-2
While Leitrim dropped their intensity a little in second half, Wicklow brought the game to Leitrim in the second half with Roisin Fowley adding two quick points after good work from Aine Tighe and Sinead Fowley.
After being fouled, Aine Tighe converted a penalty to leave the score at 3-15 to 0-2. Wicklow carried the game to Leitrim but there was no way through as Enya McWeeney, Mary Farrell and Kirby Gilgunn gave them little room for any chances.
Entering the final quarter Laura O’Dowd finished to the net after a defence splitting pass by Anna Conlon. Wicklow goalkeeper Emer Miley made two excellent saves later while at the other end Amy Murphy almost chipped Guckian for a goal. Leitrim tagged on another three points while at the death Lucy Mulhall pointed a consolation free for Wicklow.
The highlights of the Leitrim performance was the link play especially between Roisin Fowley and Aine Tighe, the tackling of Mairead Stenson, the workrate of captain Deirdre Ward and the running of Sinead Fowley and the vision of Anna Conlon.
Michelle Guckian, Mary Farrell, Enya McWeeney, Sharon Kerrigan, Clare Owens, Mairead Stenson, Kirby Gilgunn, Deirdre Ward, Sinead Fowley (0-1), Niamh Tighe (1-1), Aine Tighe(2-6), Aine Heslin (0-1), Anna Conlon, Eirin Farrell (0-2), Roisin Fowley (0-5). Subs: Laura O’Dowd (1-2) for Heslin, Vanessa Gallogly for Kerrigan, Joyce Cunningham for E. Farrell, Sinead Tighe for A. Tighe and Olivia Gilmartin for Gilgunn.
Emer Miley, Tara Costello, Sarah Hogan, Rebecca Fusciardi, Lorana Fusciardi, Sarah Miley, Aine Byrne, Jackie Kinch, Niam Reid, Lauren Ahern, Laura Hogan, Eadoinne Lenihan, Erin Murphy (0-1),Lucy Mulhall (0-2) Amy Murphy.