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SLIDESHOW: Limerick open Ladies Football league with win

Limerick 1-9 Louth 0-11

CATRIONA DAVIS kicked two injury-time frees to give Limerick a dramatic win in their Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 4 opener against Louth in Askeaton on Sunday afternoon

In a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final, Limerick started slowly despite having a strong wind behind them in the opening half. Louth took full advantage and pointed an early lead as the impressive Lauren Boyle slotted over before a Rebecca Carr free ensured the visitors got off to a perfect two point lead.

It was an opening 30 minutes that saw Limerick only managing to get one point from play which came through Rebecca Delee in the 21st minute.

In a stop-start game in windy conditions, Limerick’s Catriona Davis made sure that Limerick kept within touching distance of their Leinster counterparts as the clinical free taker brought her tally to four points in the first half.

John Ryan’s side levelled for the first time as Delee grabbed the sides’ first point from play before Louth captain Kate Flood found space to give her side a narrow advantage on the verge of half time. 

Lauren Doyle added another on the restart but Limerick went ahead for the first time as dual star   Rebecca Delee - fresh from Limerick Camogie’s win over Clare on Saturday - found the back of the net to make it 1-5 to 0-7 with 36 minutes on the clock.

Louth responded well and were level again through the in-form Boyle before the faultless Davis coolly slotted over a free at the other end. 

Both Boyle and Davis exchanged points again before Susan Byrne got involved with the scoring action to draw level terms heading into stoppage time.

Moments later, Limerick looked like they had sealed the victory but Una Pearson did superbly well to push Caroline Hickey’s shot on to the upper post. 

Louth responded immediately as Katie Flood gave her side a one point advantage deep into time added on with a close-range free at the other end.

Darren Bishop’s side failed to maintain possession and with nine minutes stoppage time showing, it was none other than Catriona Davis to bring the sides on level terms again.

With 10 minutes stoppage time played, Davis kicked over her eighth free of the afternoon to win the game in dramatic fashion for Limerick.

Speaking after the game, Limerick Ladies Football manager, John Ryan, expressed his delighted with such a late win over a strong Louth side, in a game he felt luck was on his side.

“We were very, very slow to start,” he said. “They got ahead of us. Louth came here with a purpose - they wanted to win this. The papers had during the week that they [Louth] wanted to win the league and they proved it here today - there is nothing between these two sides. If you look back at the All-Ireland, we probably caught them at Croke Park but they came to Askeaton with a purpose.

"They were very well setup - their backs were very well setup and basically to get out of jail here today [Sunday] was excellent. “I have to compliment my own girls because they fought on their backs in the last five minutes and that was tough. 

“Catriona Davis putting over that last free was something else. She [Davis] is an excellent free taker, an excellent attitude and when she came in last year we worked with her and she has turned in to one of the best free takers in the country at the moment. Even if it was a senior men’s game here, the way she stood over those two frees was excellent"

Raising concerns over his side’s lack of points from play, John Ryan pinpointed this as a significant focus for his team in the weeks ahead.

“We need to get more from our inside forward line. That is what we need to work on straight away.”

SCORERS: Limerick: Catriona Davis 0-8 (8 frees), Rebecca Delee 1-1 Louth: Lauren Boyle 0-6, Kate Flood 0-2 (1 free), Susan Byrne, Rebecca Carr, Jennifer McGuinness 0-1 each. 

LIMERICK: Marie Lyons; Kristine Reidy, Sarah O’Sullivan, Ava Hartigan; Megan O’Shea, Katie Heelan, Cathy Mee (capt.); Loretta Hanley; Caroline Hickey; Cliodhna Ni Cheallaigh, Rebecca Delee, Roisin Ambrose’ Olivia Giltenane, Caitriona Davis, Mairead Kavanagh. Subs: Andrea O’Sullivan for Cliodhna Ni Cheallaigh (46mins), Kristy Carroll for Mairead Kavanagh (52mins) 

LOUTH: Una Pearson; Ellis Hand, Michelle McMahon, Shannon McLoughlin; Aoife Russell, Ceire Nolan, Sinead Woods; Eimear Byrne, Aoife Byrne; Rebecca Carr, Susan Byrne, Jennifer McGuinness; Lauren Boyle, Kate Flood, Ciara Woods. Subs: Niamh Rice for Jennifer McGuinness (42mins), Aimee McNally for Ciara Woods, Deirbhile Osborne for Ellis Hand (51mins), Rachel McNally for Rebecca Carr (55 mins)

REFEREE: Barry Redmond (Wexford).

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