Paddy Henry’s Sligo claimed a remarkable come-from-behind victory against Waterford in this afternoon’s Tesco Ladies National Football League Division 3 decider at Parnell Park.
The Yeats County girls were eight points down in the first half but rallied to claim a first League crown since their 1995 Division 3 success.
In the process, Sligo claimed promotion to Division 2 for the 2016 campaign and the manner of victory was all the more startling given that Waterford beat them by 22 points in the group stages of the League campaign.
Sligo, admittedly depleted, suffered a 0-6 to 5-13 whipping early in the season and when Waterford full-forward Sinead Ryan bagged two first half goals this afternoon, the big fear was that the Déise would run riot again.
But Ryan’s opposite number and player of the match Katie Walsh turned the game on its head to finish with a personal haul of 2-4.
And after Waterford steamed into a 2-3 to 0-1 lead in the first half, they were outscored by 0-5 to 2-11 for the remainder of the game.
Sligo also registered eight wides in the first half, as Waterford had just the one, but the roles were reversed after half-time as the runners-up finished with six second half wides.
Pre-match favourites Waterford grabbed the first goal of the game in the tenth minute, when Ryan struck from close range after Michelle Ryan’s attempted point struck the upright.
And when Ryan netted again just two minutes later, after Aileen Wall’s defence splitting pass opened up the Sligo defence, Waterford were eight points clear.
But Sligo rallied with three successive points before Walsh slotted home a penalty after Emma Murray was sin-binned for a foot block offence.
By half-time, Sligo were back in the hunt, trailing by 1-4 to 2-4, and they took over in the second period.
Walsh’s second goal handed them the lead for the first time and it was one they would not relinquish.
Gráinne Kenneally became the second Waterford player to enter the sin-bin midway through the second half and Sligo had goalkeeper Noelle Gormley to thank for a fine save to deny Shauna Dunphy 12 minutes from time.
Waterford rallied to within two points down the home straight but their day ended in miserable fashion when Murray was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 56th minute.
Scorers for Sligo: K Walsh 2-4 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), S Reynolds & S O’Reilly 0-2 each, B Byrne, E O’Reilly, K Moloney & D McGrath 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: S Ryan 2-3 (0-2f), A Wall 0-2, G Kenneally, M Delahunty (f) & M Ryan 0-1 each.
SLIGO: N Gormley; O McGowan, G O’Loughlin, C Casey; R Goodwin, E Codd, J Mulligan; S McTiernan, B Byrne; E O’Reilly, S O’Reilly, S Reynolds; L.A. Laffey, K Walsh, K Moloney.
Subs: L Brett for Moloney (22), D McGrath for Laffey (40), G Carty for Brett (57).
WATERFORD: K Hannon; L Wall, K McGrath, E Murray; M McGrath, E Power, M Dunford; N Fennell, M Wall; G Kenneally, M Delahunty, A Wall; M Ryan, S Ryan, A Murray.
Subs: C McGrath for Fennell (h.t.), S Dunphy for Wall (42), H Landers for A Murray (53).
Referee: J Murphy (Carlow)