Leitrim Ladies have it all to do in their final group game against Limerick on Saturday week if they are to have any hope of progressing through Group A of this year’s TG4 Intermediate Championship, after a crushing 2-14 to 1-09 defeat to an impressive Fermanagh side at Pairc Sean Ui Eslin in Ballinamore last Saturday.
After the previous weekend’s victory over Wicklow in the first round of games, Niall Kilcrann’s side looked to go into their final league game of the pool with their destiny in their own hands. Instead, the Green and Gold must now rely on scores from other games in the group and a win over the Shannonsiders to see themselves through to the knock-out stages.
As always, Leitrim relied heavily on Kiltubrid’s Aine Tighe for scores and Saturday was no different. A total haul of nine scores from the All Star wasn’t enough as the Ulster side had a talented number 15 of their own in the shape of Lisnaskea’s Caroline Little.
In a first half where these two ladies were responsible for each score from their respective side, it was the former who struck first with two minutes played as Tighe converted a free but this was to be the only time in the game that Leitrim would lead.
Fermanagh responded immediately through a Little free before the two sharpshooters swapped points. Lynn McFrederick then slipped a quick hand pass through to Little and Leitrim goalkeeper Michelle Guckian could do little to stop the ball finding the bottom corner of the net.
That left Fermanagh three points ahead with six minutes played. Leitrim kicked eight wides on the day and their first came from Mohill’s Kiara Keegan on 11 minutes. Keegan went for goal as she aimed a shot at the bottom corner but instead, the ball dragged across the goal and wide.
Aine Tighe racked up three points in a row as the game turned into quite a physical battle with both sides going hammer and tongs to gain the advantage. The home side almost went ahead with two minutes of the second half to play when Kiara Keegan’s mazy run gave her clear sight at goal but Fermanagh captain Orla Rehill did enough to put Keegan off her shot.
The Lake County had led since the 6th minute but Aine Tighe was again on hand to level the game from a point after a neat one two with Roisin Fowley. The away side dashed any hopes of a half-time Leitrim lead a minute from the whistle as Little beat off several Leitrim tackles and placed the ball past Guckian for her fifth score of the game to leave a goal between the teams at the break at 0-6 to 2-3.
The Green and Gold had a second half that they will want to quickly forget. Fermanagh extended their lead to five points through McFrederick and Noelle Connolly. Aine Tighe dded her and Leitrim’s seventh score to the board on 50 minutes through a well taken free which Sinead Fowley won.
Leitrim went for a more direct approach and introduced Drumkeerin’s Shauna Clancy on 52 minutes but this back fired against them as Caroline Little, Marcella Connolly, Aisling Moane and Lynn McFrederick all made the most of space in the home rearguard to send Fermanagh into a commanding eight point lead.
Leitrim struggled from here on in but the Ulster side did have the crossbar to thank twice in quick succession when both Fowley and Aine Tighe struck the woodwork in the same attack. Leitrim did eventually find the net and were given a much needed shot in the arm on 55 minutes when sub Laura O’Dowd narrowed the gap to five as she supplied Fowley who shot past Gleeson.
Tighe and Little swapped points again soon after but four more scores from the Fermanagh number 15 saw her side lead by nine points. Tighe scored her ninth point of the game late into injury time to leave the final score at 1-9 to 2-14.
Michelle Guckian; Mairead Stenson, Enya McWeeney, Mary Farrell; Kirby Gilgunn, Sinead Tighe, Lisa McWeeney; Sinead Fowley, Deirdre Ward; Niamh Tighe, Erin Farrell Kiara Keegan; Lorraine Brennan, Rosin Fowley (1-0), Aine Tighe (0-9). Subs used: Shauna Clancy for E. Farrell (42 mins); Laura O’Dowd for Keegan (50 mins)
Roisin Gleeson; Roisin O’Reilly, Orla Rehill, Claire Woods; Marcella Connolly (0-1), Tara Little, Shauna Hamilton; Aisling Moane (0-1), Aine McHugh; Nuala McManus, Noelle Connolly (0-2), Aine McBrien; Sharon Little, Lynn McFrederick (0-2), Caroline Little (2-8). Subs: Brenda Brogan for McHugh (59 mins), Danica Beattie for McManus (52 mins)
Referee Seamus Regan (Roscommon