Louth stroll to win against tame Cats
TG4 Ladies All-Ireland JFC: Louth 6-24 Kilkenny 1-6
Louth have qualified for the Ladies All-Ireland Junior Championship semi-finals with a game to spare after brushing aside the challenge of Kilkenny at a wet and windy Stabannon on Saturday last.
This result, along with London's victory 24 hours later over Antrim, ensured a place in the last four for both winning counties and they meet in the last round of fixtures on Sunday week in Ruislip, with the winners taking top spot in the group and meeting the runner-up in the other group for a place in the All-Ireland decider.
It took Louth, backed by the breeze, just 15 seconds to open the scoring when Lauren Boyle fired over to set the Reds on their way to a convincing win over a hard-working but outclassed Kilkenny.
With just seven minutes showing on the clock Louth had eased into a 1-6 to 0-0 lead, with the young Cooley star adding a further 1-1 while her club colleague Niamh Rice added two points, with Conlon and McGuinness also getting among the scorers.
From there to the break a dominant home side scored at will, building a 3-17 to 0-0 lead before the visitors got their only score of the half in the last action of the opening thirty minutes.
In what was the third meeting of these teams this year, with the Wee County emerging easy winners on each previous occasion, Aoife Russell and Conlon scored Louth's second and third goals and McGuinness, Russell, Rice, Woods and Boyle all hit points before the Noresiders got off the mark with the final score of an incredibly one-sided opening half.
In fairness, the Cats' preparation wasn't overly favourable, having been late arriving at the ground due to traffic congestion on the motorway.
After hitting nine first-half wides, on top of their resounding total, the hosts immediately got back about their business after the restart as Conlon added 1-2 to her total before another run of Louth points followed Kilkenny's second minor.
Conlon completed her hat-trick mid-way through the half, with Boyle and Sinead Woods also on target, before McGuinness confidently added her side's sixth goal from the penalty spot.
'It's a good result,' said Louth manager Darren Bishop. 'The girls played very well and the intensity was very hard for Kilkenny to match.
The weather conditions didn't help as we haven't played in this type of weather for the past six weeks, so it took a little time to adjust to this.
'What I must say is the determination and sacrifice that this KIlkenny team show is very impressive. It's not easy to travel to to games this year and concede big scores, but they fight to the bitter end.
'They have some very good footballers that any county would be delighted to have in their set'up.
'Up front today Alanna Conlon and Jenny McGuinness really impressed. These girls were given a chance to showcase what they are capable of and they certainly did that. Our defence stood strong and limited Kilkenny scoring chances throughout the day.
'We now move on to our next match against London who won't be an easy task considering how well they did last year, and they seem like a team that's keen on getting to an All-Ireland semi-final like ourselves.
'They notched up a big win over Kilkenny and will very difficult opponents.'
Louth: Una Pearson; Claire Donnelly, Michelle McMahon, Shannen McLoughlin; Michelle McArdle, Ceire Nolan, Bronagh McGrane; Sinead Woods 0-2, Eimear Byrne; Jennifer McGuinness 1-5, Aoife Russell 1-2, Niamh Rice 0-0; Lauren Boyle 1-5, Aine Breen, Alanna Conlon 3-7. Subs used: Coirin Rice, Shauna Markey, Leanne Sharkey, Grainne Murray, Róisín Osborne.