Five-star Louth ease past Derry
Lidl National League Division 4: Louth 5-9 Derry 1-5
Louth rubber-stamped their place in the league semi-finals with a game to spare following an emphatic win over Derry on Sunday afternoon in Clan Na Gael Park.
They complete their campaign in Tullyallen on Sunday when they entertain Fermanagh aiming for a sixth successive win, which would set up a meeting with Antrim in the last four.
When these counties met in last year's All-Ireland semi-final, Derry came close to causing a major upset, leading for most of the second half and it took a late Kate Flood goal to deny Derry an appearance in the Croke Park decoder.
This game never reached the heights of that Aughnacloy thriller with Louth quickly into their stride as Lauren Boyle hit the home side's first score after just two minutes, a brilliant low shot into the bottom corner giving her side the perfect start.
The Cooley sharpshooter kicked two points before Kate Flood struck Louth's second goal with a stylish finish in the thirteenth minute after a fine passing movement involving Sinead Woods and Lauren Boyle.
As the northern county struggled to come to terms with Louth's movement and slick passing the home side stretched their lead to eleven points as Kate Flood and Ciara Woods combined brilliantly to set up Emer Byrne who lashed an unstoppable shot past Kathryn McNamee, giving the St.Mochta's star her second goal in as many outings.
Rebecca Carr added a point before Emma Doherty had the Oak Leak's first score from a free in the twenty third minute.
Louth replied with the last score of the half through Lauren Boyle to lead 3:4 to 0:1 at the break.
As in the first half Louth started on the front foot as Boyle hit an early point before an alert Aoife Russell intercepted a Derry kick out and the Glen Emmetts player's well placed shot sailed over the stranded McNamee and into the Derry net to extend the lead to 4-5 to 0-1.
To their credit Paul Crozier's side never give up and were rewarded when brilliant approach play by Dania Donnelly found substitute Leonie McElroy in space and the Limavady player's well hit shot found the top corner of Una Pearson's net.
Louth responded strongly with goals from Clan's pair Ciara Woods and Emily Norton with Alannah McLaughlin, Michelle McMahon and Aine Breen all raising white flags as Louth finished with a flourish.
In a good Louth team performance, where their opponents didn't score from play for forty three minutes, Sarah Quinn, Eilish Hand, and Ceire Nolan excelled in a strong backline while Emer Byrne's workrate and strong running ensured the forwards saw plenty of the ball where Lauren Boyle was again in superb form, ably assisted by Ciara Woods, Aoife Russell, Rebecca Carr and Emily Norton.
Louth coach David Shevlin was content with his team's latest victory with all of his side's total of 5:09 coming from play.
'I am very pleased with the result and performance from the players today as we knew coming into today's game that it was going to be a tough battle. Although the scoreline might not reflect this, it was a tough game from start to finish and credit to the Louth girls as they put in a massive effort to ensure the victory and a semi final place.
'The big positives from today's game was ending the game with 10 different scorers and defensively restricting Derry to six scores. We look forward to another tough test against Fermanagh next week in what is a very tight and competitive Division,' he said.
Louth: Una Pearson; Shannen McLaughlin, Sarah Quinn, Eilis Hand; Deirbhile Osborne, Michelle McMahon 0-1, Ceire Nolan; Sinead Woods, Eimear Byrne 1-0; Rebecca Carr 0-1, Aoife Russell 1-0, Ciara Woods 0-1; Aine Breen 0-1, Kate Flood 1-0, Lauren Boyle 1-4 Subs: Emily Norton 1-0, Niamh Rice, Grainne Murray, Eimear Murray 0-1 Leanne Sharkey, Grace Treanor
Derry: Kathryn McNamee; Grace Conway, Cait Glass, Dania Donnelly; Ciara Lynn, Aoife McGough, Anna Frizelle; Ciara McGurk, Danielle Kivlehan 0-1; Niamh Hannon, Emma Doherty, 0:3 Aimee Glasgow; Leanne Curran 0-1, Ciara Moore, Catherine Fletcher. Subs: Niamh McIlroy 1-0, Toireasa McIlroy, Hannah Mullen, Nuala Browne
Referee: Declan Carolan (Down);