Meath prove too strong for Sligo ladies in Division 3 league final
Meath 4-11 Sligo 1-04
Lauren Boles' late goal was only a consolation as Sligo fell to a heavy defeat to Meath in the Lidl Ladies NFL Division 3 final at St Tiernach's Park in Clones on Saturday.
Sligo had won six-in-a-row in the league - including their semi-final triumph over Roscommon - since their second round defeat to Meath but couldn't avenge that loss.
Meath signalled their intent early and after Emma Duggan's goal they took a 1-6 to 0-1 lead into half-time. Katie Walsh's free was all Sligo could score.
Sligo did hit 1-6 in the second half but the game was lost in the first four minutes when Stacey Grimes and Kelsey Nesbitt (two) fired goals.
"In the second half they blitzed us with three early goals and it killed the tie," said Sligo joint-manager David Curran.
"To our credit we never gave in. When you concedes goals within five minutes it is very hard to come back.
"First half it was 1-6 to 0-1 and they just kept tipping along. We missed a couple of chances.
"There is a not huge deal between them sides, we just need to correct small things to prevent goals going in."
Meath lost last year's Division 3 final to Wexford, and following an TG4 All-Ireland intermediate final loss at the hands of Tyrone they were desperate to win silverware and gain promotion. And they had dominated the early stages of the league finishing top after the group phase.
Sligo couldn't cope with the onslaught early on and relied on the heroics of experienced goalkeeper Noelle Gormley to save from Vikki Wall.
But in the fourth minute Shauna Ennis set up Duggan, and the minor star finished off the first goal of the afternoon.
Points from Niamh Gallogly and Grimes (two) followed before Nesbitt was shown a yellow card after she collided with Gormley in the air.
That action would have lasting effects as the Sligo goalkeeper failed to return for the second half.
Meanwhile, full-forward Emma Kevany won a free and Walsh slotted from right in front of the posts to reduce the arrears to 1-3 to 0-1. But Sligo couldn't make any more use of their numerical advantage.
Meath goalkeeper Monica McGuirk made a great block to deny Kevany a certain goal, and Meath finished the half with point from Grimes and Duggan (two).
Sligo couldn't allow Meath to make another fast start in the second half, but they did and Grimes found the net shortly after the resumption.
It was now 2-6 to 0-1 and before Sligo couldn't retain their composure Nesbitt hit them for a double and the game was over.
In the following 25 minutes Sligo would score 1-6, with Boles scoring her goal in the 42nd minute, but despite some impressive shooting from Walsh and Nicola Brennan it was a disappointing result.
"Their keeper made a couple of good saves. They were very good on the day, Meath. We can't take it away from them," said Curran.
"We will back, we will learn and hopefully we will get another chance at them."
Scorers - Meath: K Nesbitt 2-0, S Grimes 1-4 (0-2f), E Duggan 1-2, N Gallogly 0-1, V Wall 0-1, M Thynne 0-1, A Cleary 0-1, O Lally 0-1. Sligo: L Boles 1-0, K Walsh 0-3 (0-2f), N Brennan 0-2, E Kevany 0-1, L Casey 0-1.
Meath: M McGuirk; K Newe, S Powderly, S Ennis; S Wall, A Cleary, N Gallogly; M O'Shaughnessy, O Lally; V Wall, E Duggan, M Thynne; E White, K Nesbitt, S Grimes.
Subs: O Byrne for White (46), O Duff for Newe (55), K Byrne for Lally (55), B Lynch for Nesbitt (57), N Sheridan for S Wall (60).
Sligo: N Gormley; A Morrisroe, M McNamara, J Mulligan; N Brennan, B Byrne, AM Coleman; R Goodwin, LA Laffey; L Boles, C Gorman, S Naughton; K Walsh, E Kevany, L Casey.
Subs: R Quigley for Gormley (half-time), S Regan for Kevany (35), G O'Loughlin for Coleman (46), S Reynolds for Laffey (49), J Brehany for Casey (54).
Referee: E Moran (Kerry)