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Down Ladies qualify for Suzuki Quarter Finals

Ladies qualify for Quarter Finals


Ladies Football Suzuki National League Division Two Longford
0-5 Down 0-6

The Down Ladies Team ploughed their way through a blizzard
in Longford Town on Sunday to reach the play offs of the
Suzuki National League Division Two. Playing in Pearce Park,
they overcame a determined Longford team in a low scoring
game, characterised by missed opportunities on both sides.
The game was dominated by the weather conditions with poor
visibility and windy conditions making passing and shooting
very difficult. Down got things underway though on the five
minute mark with a point from play by Kyla Trainor. Longford
matched this almost immediately as midfielder Fiona Blessington
drove forward to hit over the bar and her team proceeded
to take lead after eighteen minutes through an Alison Smyth
point. The remainder of the half was dominated by Down but
they didn’t capitalise on their possession, hitting six
wides in succession. Michaela Downey brought the game level
just before the half time whistle leaving nothing between
them at the break.

Half time score Longford 0-2, Down 0-2.

As the snow and hail continued to pelt down, Longford took
the lead immediately from the throw in through full forward
Denise Murtagh’s free. Alison Smyth captured her second
shortly after, giving Longford some element of breathing
space, albeit despite a disallowed Down goal, denied for
a square ball. However, the number of frees conceded by
the home side would eventually be to their detriment as
Grainne McClean punished them from the freeline three times
in succession. A Donna Leavy free for Longford though, saw
the game level going into the final minutes as both sides
stepped up the pressure. Annaclone player Aileen Pyers came
off the bench for the injured Cora McKibben and had the
perfect impact. Receiving the ball from Kyla Trainor, she
turned twenty yards out to strike the ball over the bar
four minutes from the end. For the remainder of the game
and the subsequent five minutes injury time, Longford piled
on the pressure as they sought the equalizer. However, the
Down defence handled everything thrown at them.

The Down Panel who qualified for
the Quarter Finals of the Division 2 Suzuki Ladies
National Football League

The full back line of Bronagh McCurry, Niamh McGowan and
Niamh Lennon were immense and captain Eilish McConville
gave a captain’s performance on a day when the conditions
demanded fortitude as well as skill. Down eventually eased
the pressure without conceding the vital score and as they
pressed forward for a final attack, the referee’s whistle
blew giving them their deserved victory and a precious place
in the play offs.

Managers John McCarthy and Noel Haughey were pleased with
the result saying, “the playing conditions meant that the
game would come down to pure grit and determination and
we weren’t found wanting. Our defending, especially in the
closing minutes was tremendous and while we missed a lot
of chances, we dominated possession and did enough to win
in the end”. The playing conditions meant that this would
never be a beautiful game of football but Down will have
been pleased with the determined manner that they closed
up shop in the closing minutes to deny Longford. They dominated
possession throughout, again built on the performance of
the back six.

Midfielders Aine Keary and Cora McKibben were everywhere
for the mourne county, while up front Grainne McClean’s
accuracy in front of the posts did the necessary damage.
With the League games complete, Down will need to repeat
their recent good form and up their scoring rate if they
are to proceed through the playoffs on April 8th, where
both players and supporters will be hoping for less punishing
weather conditions.

Down Team: Emma Madine, Bronagh McCurry, Niamh McGowan,
Niamh Lennon, Eilish McConville (captain), Sinead Murphy,
Sinead Fegan, Cora McKibben, Aine Keary, Grainne McClean,
Kyla Trainor, Michaela Downey, Kerrie O’Neill, Lyndsey Cunningham,
Maeve McConville. Subs Used: Aileen Pyers, Geraldine Campbell
Management: John McCarthy, Noel Haughey

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