Louth’s Lidl NFL promotion bid receives a blow with comprehensive defeat in Clare

Clare 1-14 Louth 1-5

The Louth team which lost out to Clare in Doonbeg on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Warren Matthews

Louth’s promotion bid was dealt a significant blow at Doonbeg on Sunday afternoon as Clare – managed by former Wee supremo Wayne Freeman – gave their own title hopes a significant boost ahead of the closing round of the Lidl National Football League.

Backed by a strong wind advantage during the opening period, the Banner built up a comprehensive – and, ultimately, decisive – advantage and had a far greater spread of registrars in what was arguably the Munster side’s best display of the campaign to date.

It took the Reds until shortly after half-time to find the target, through Kate Flood sole notch, but Clare’s 1-12 post by the break was never likely to be reeled in on an afternoon where the absence of Laura Collins, Louth’s top-scorer this season, was keenly felt.

At the other end, Chloe Moloney had a fine outing and converted five points during a devastating opening period effort, where winger Amy Sexton shot past Rebecca Lambe-Fagan, who was extremely busy, for a goal.

Such was the Banner’s territorial dominance of the fixture that their entire half-back line – comprising Louise Griffin, Caoimhe Harvey and Joanna Doohan – all found the target with five of the six starting forwards also registering.

When the match resumed, Henry had made two changes, bringing in experienced defender Éilís Hand and debutante Katie Doheny and while they helped to shore up the rear-guard, Clare were by now able to soak up any Louth pressure and effectively take the ball forward.

Lauren Boyle struggled to get the time and space she needed to reel in the hosts with the Cooley Kickhams star often overcrowded. The Clare management were clearly wise to her threat – as they also were to the potential for Niamh Rice to cause damage.

But, having returned to the fray after an earlier yellow card, Rice gave the travelling contingency something to shout about when leathering the ball to the back of the net, reducing the deficit to 11 points. Albeit, a comeback assault always appeared to be out of the question.

And Louth’s day was compounded when substitute Ciara Woods was sin-binned by Cork referee Justin Murphy approaching the finish.

CLARE: Amy Lenihan; Áine Keane, Síofra Ní Chonaill, Gráinne Harvey; Louise Griffin 0-1, Caoimhe Harvey 0-1, Joanna Doohan 0-1; Sineád Considine, Clíodhna Blake; Megan Downes, Fidelma Marrinan 0-2 (1f), Amy Sexton 1-0; Lizzy Roche 0-1, Chloe Moloney 0-5 (1f), Ciara McCarthy 0-3. Subs: Aisling Reidy for McCarthy (41), Eimear Keane for Sexton (41), Lauren Griffin for Louise Griffin (50), Caoilinn McCormack for Downes (55), Emma Healy for Considine (55), Laura Griffey for Roche (57).

LOUTH: Rebecca Lambe-Fagan; Eimear Murray, Dearbhla O’Connor, Rachel Beirth; Mia Duffy, Shannen McLaughlin, Caitlin O’Reilly; Aoife Halligan, Áine Breen; Aoife Russell, Kate Flood 0-1, Céire Nolan; Róisín Maguire, Lauren Boyle 0-3 (3f), Niamh Rice 1-1. Subs: Éilís Hand for O’Connor (HT), Katie Doheny for Beirth (HT), Ciara Woods for Maguire (42), Lucy White for O’Reilly (50), Abi Keenan for Flood (50), Grace Treanor for Russell (57), Aideen Dunne for Halligan (57).

REFEREE: Justin Murphy (Cork).