Cooley's storming finish beats Blues
GAA Louth Ladies Club C'ship, SFC: Cooley Kickhams 3-14 Newtown Blues 2-13
Cooley Kickhams will feel they have one foot in the quarter-finals of the SFC after this four-point victory over Newtown Blues in a high-scoring encounter in Fr McEvoy Park on Sunday.
Another win next Sunday over Roche/Na Piarsaigh should see Kickhams into the next round, while the Drogheda side must beat champions Stabannon next weekend if they are to remain in contention for this year's title.
After an even opening quarter which saw the home side lead by 0-3 to 0-2, Cooley had the game's opening goal when Eibhlin Rice's shot beat Elaine Flood in the Blues goal, her shot from an acute angle finding the bottom corner of the net.
Blues almost replied instantly when Sarah Dyas got through the Cooley defence, only to be denied by a superb save by Coirin Rice, one of many excellent stops the Cooley netminder produced.
The home side added further points from Siobhain McDonald and a superbly taken long distance free from Lauren Boyle, sandwiched in between by a Laura Collins single.
Niamh Rice then added two further points to extend Cooley's lead to 1-7 to 0-4. Blues could have been much closer but for the intervention of the woodwork as both Sarah Dyas and Laura Collins saw efforts come back off the post.
Cooley continued to look dangerous in attack and had their second goal with a stunning effort from the impressive Lauren Boyle - 2-7 to 0-6 in the 27th minute.
Laura Collins then added two points to keep Blues in contention and the visitors got a further boost when Lisa Kelly went through on goal and was fouled and referee Brian Brady awarded a penalty which was clinically converted by Collins in the last action of the half. That cut the Cooley lead lead to just two points - 2-7 to 1-8.
With the momentum of a strong finish to the first half, Blues started the half well, with Collins again on target. It got even better for the Drogheda side just three minutes into the half as Kate Gerrard beat a couple of defenders before firing a wonderful shot to the Cooley net.
Kickhams responded well as points from Boyle (2) and Niamh Rice saw them back in front - 2-10 to 2-9 after 42 minutes. As the excitement mounted former Louth star Collins and Leah Tuohy kicked the next three points to put Keith Lynch's charges back in front - 2-12 to 2-10 after 45 minutes.
But with ten minutes left Lauren Boyle was again on target from a free after Sarah Jane O'Reilly was fouled, and just a minute later Siobhain McDonnell won possession and drilled a brilliant shot to the net from 20 metres - 3-11 to 2-12.
It was a blow the Blues didn't recover from as Cooley finished the better with points from Boyle, Rice and O'Reilly, to a solitary Collins point in reply.
Cooley Kickhams: Coirin Rice, R. McGlynn, Megan Ferguson, Shauna Murphy, Aoife Traynor, Claire Donnelly, Laura Traynor, Niamh Quigley, Siobhan McDonald 1-1, Leah Tuohy, Sara Jane O'Reilly 0-1, Niamh Rice 0-5. K.Ferguson, Eibhlin Rice 1-1, Lauren Boyle 1-6.
Newtown Blues: Elaine Flood, Kim O'Hara, Lisa Finglas, Emma Thompson, Laura O'Shaughnessy, Cliona Smith, Orlaith Nugent, Maura O'Sullivan, Rebecca McAllister, Hannah O'Neill 0-1, Lisa Kelly, Roisin Crowe, Kate Gerrard 1-4, Laura Collins 1-9, Sarah Dyas.
• Elsewhere, Stabanonn got the defence off their title of to a winning start with a 4-8 to 3-8 win over Roche/Na Piarsaigh.
It looked plain sailing for the champs as they led by 2-7 to 0-2 at the break and they extended that lead to 13 points just after the interval, but the combination side rallied superbly and with Jenny McCourt in good form - hitting 0-8 - Stabannon had to call on all of their experience to ensure the victory, with 16-year-old Niamh Sadlier their scoring hero with 3-1.
SFC: Cooley 3-14 Newtown Blues 2-13, Geraldines 4-7 St Kevin's 0-10, Stabannon 4-8 Roche/Na Piarsaigh 3-8
IFC: St Fechin's 5-17 Clans 3-5, Nh Fionnbarra 2-12 Mattock Rangers 3-8, Kilkerley/Dowdallshill 6-17 O Raghallaigh's 0-2