League hopes end
LGFA: Lidl ladies NFL division 3, round 7 - Longford 1-20 Wicklow 1-7
Wicklow's hopes of reaching the last four of the Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3 campaign were brought to a shuddering halt by a flying Longford side in Pearse Park on Sunday afternoon.
From start to finish Enda Sheridan's side were in scintillating form and a produced a display of power and confidence that gave their management and supporters plenty of reasons to be happy as they filed out of the grounds to the sound of thumping music from the circus next door.
Wicklow, having suffered the loss of key players prior to throw in, Lorna Fusciardi Hayden to a yellow late in the first, and then losing Niamh McGettigan and Sarah Jane Winder to injury just before half-time, managed to cling on to Longford's coat-tails for as long as they could but the home side were just not going to be stopped once they were stung into action by Laura Hogan's goal early in the second half.
The 0-11 to 0-5 half-time deficit for James Kelly's side could have been much worse.
They missed a penalty in the 11th minute, fired two wides and dropped a ball short to Megan Dunne who was taking the place of Kim Connors who was ill and was one of four changes to the match programme.
Aine Byrne, Laurie Ahern, Evelyn Deans and the aforementioned Connors didn't start the game for the Garden County.
Emily Mulhall came in for Aine Byrne, Niamh McGettigan for Laurie Ahern and Laura Hogan for Evelyn Deans.
It was abundantly clear early on that Longford were supremely up for this game. All over the field they were showing huge enthusiasm and energy, their management team were effusive in their praise and encouragement and the crowd were fully behind the midland side as they went in search for revenge for the last time Wicklow paid a visit.
Just five of the starting 15 for Longford that day in June of last year in the Leinster semi-final remained for last Sunday's clash as a totally rejuvenated outfit hit the ground at a gallop and rampaged to an 0-11 to 0-5 lead at the break.
In fairness to Wicklow, such a disruptive change to the starting 15 did absolutely nothing to help their cause and they did battle bravely and impressively at times in that first half, but this Longford side were just on fire.
Captain Emer Heaney was immense and she opened the scoring after 60 seconds to which Marie Kealy replied after lovely play from the visitors.
A string of Longford points followed before Sarah Miley swung over a beauty to make it 0-5 to 0-2 for the home side with that penalty miss helping to keep the slim Wicklow hopes alive.
A class exchange between Laura Hogan and Jackie Kinch saw Kinch bag Wicklow's third point of the day but they were having to work so much harder for their scores than the home side.
The pressure on both kick outs was immense and Longford probably harvested more profits from their efforts overall, but Wicklow's fourth point came from Clodagh Fox and was a direct result of giving Emer Esler very few options from the restart.
It was 0-10 to 0-5 when Lorna Fusciardi Hayden was lost to a yellow for a footblock on Mairead Reynolds, Wicklow's fifth coming from the boot of Laura Hogan after a strong run from the Tinahely woman.
Aisling Greene would finish the first-half scoring but with Niamh McGettigan having gone off injured and Sarah Jane Winder about to follow suit things were looking bleak for James Kelly's side.
Laura Hogan's goal offered some hope early in the second, but her major seemed to be received like a hurtful insult by the home side and they hit 1-7 without reply making it 1-19 to 1-5 by the time Aoife Gorman split the posts with 29 minutes on the second-half clock.
A late Laura Hogan effort ended the scoring on a day when Wicklow needed everything to go their way to have any chance of beating a red-hot Longford outfit.
Alas, nothing went right for the Garden County side but their first year in Division 3 can be reflected on with a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Onwards and upwards!
Scorers - Longford: Aoife Darcy 0-6 (3f), Emer Heaney 0-5, Ciara Healy 0-3, Aisling Greene 0-3, Kara Shannon 1-0, Anna McDonnell 0-2, Michelle Farrell 0-1.
Wicklow: Laura Hogan 1-2, Clodagh Fox 0-1, Marie Kealy 0-1, Jackie Kinch 0-1, Aoife Gorman 0-1, Sarah Miley 0-1.
Wicklow: Megan Dunne; Sarah Jane Winders, Sarah hogan, Aoife Gillen; Lorna Fusciardi Hayden, Jessica Nolan Byrne, Emily Mulhall; Aoife Gorman, Sarah Delahunt; Jackie Kinch, Niamh McGettigan, Sarah Miley; Marie Kealy, Laura Hogan, Clodagh Fox. Subs: Ana McGrath for N McGettigan (inj), Aine Byrne for SJ Winders (inj), Georgina Canavan for M Kealy, Tara Costello for E Mulhall, Erin Horan for S Miley, Evelyn Dean for C Fox.
Longford: Emer Esler; Rachel O'Farrell, Leanne Keegan, Mairead Moore; Orla Nevin, Eimear O'Brien, Clare Farrell; Jacinta Brady, Mairead Reynolds; Emer Heany, Michelle Farrell, Ciara Healy; Anna McDonnell, Aisling Greene, Aoife Darcy. Subs: Laura Gallagher for L Keegan (inj), Aisling McCormack for C Farrell, Sarah Shannon for A McDonnell, Una Clarke for E Heaney, Kara Shannon for A Greene.
Referee: Mel Kenny