LIMERICK'S Ladies' footballers confirmed their place in the league semi-final with a comfortable 10 point margin win over Leitrim in Askeaton on Sunday afternoon. (Limerick 5-10 Leitrim 1-12 )
The 2018 All-Ireland Junior Championship winners made hard work of this final round clash in the opening half but proved way too strong for their Division 4 counterparts with substitute Catriona Davis contributing an impressive 2-3 following her half-time introduction.
John Ryan’s Limerick led by the narrowest of margins at the break - 2-3 to 0-8 - but with the prospect of a semi-final on the horizon, the home side took full advantage of a tiring Leitrim side in the second half.
First half goals from Athea’s Rebekah Daly and St Ailbes’ half-forward Mairead Kavanagh put the hosts in the driving seat despite playing against a strong breeze in West Limerick.
With just ten minutes on the clock, Daly found the back of the net for Limerick’s first goal of the afternoon after Rebekah Daly blasted home after she did well to create space against a compact Leitrim defence to make it 1-2 to 0-4.
Limerick’s second goal of this entertaining game came on the verge of half time as substitute Mairead Kavanagh took full advantage of a mistake from Leitrim goalkeeper Michelle Hackett.
Hackett failed to deal with a swerving high ball from Olivia Gilteanne as Kavanagh found the back of the net to give Limerick a two point lead.
Leitrim responded quickly as a Bronagh O’Rourke free made it a one point game at the break - 2-3 to 0-8 in favour of Limerick.
Credit to Leitrim the visitors did well to keep within touching distance of a clinical Limerick side in the first half, as Danny Clarke’s young guns grabbed eight points of their own, with two coming from frees.
The second half started as it went on as Catriona Davis, who was introduced for Lisa O’Connell at half time, found space to blast into the far corner.
A Bronagh O’Rourke free reduced the deficit to three points but Roisin Ambrose restored Limerick’s lead to four point with a well-taken point from out wide.
Minutes later, Davis cancelled out a Vivienne Egan point, as the Monagea star got involved in action yet again grabbing her first free of the afternoon and Limerick never looked back from here.
With just over ten minutes remaining, John Ryan’s side began to pull away from a tiring Leitrim side in unseasonable sunshine in Askeaton. Just as Catriona Davis was about to pull the trigger as she was bearing down on goal, the in-form Limerick ladies forward was dragged to the ground. Davis slotted home the resulting penalty to grab Limerick’s fourth goal.
The Shannonsiders weren’t done here and Rebecca Delee stepped up to the mark to find the net for Limerick’s fifth goal before a free from Davis and point from play from Caroline Hickey and Kristy Carroll secured a 5-10 to 0-12 win for the superb hosts. In the meantime, Bronagh O’Rourke found the net to secure Leitrim’s only goal of the game, but it was too little too late for the Connacht side.
The result secures Limerick’s fifth victory of their impressive league campaign which included notable wins in Derry and at home to last year’s All-Ireland final opponents, Louth, in the opening round.
SCORERS: LIMERICK: Catriona Davis 2-3 (two frees), Mairead Kavanagh 1-1, Rebekah Daly 1-0, Rebecca Delee 1-0, Orlaith O’Donoghue 0-3 (two frees), Kristy Carroll 0-1 (one free), Kristine Reidy 0-1, Roisin Ambrose 0-1
LEITRIM: Bronagh O’Rourke 1-3 (two frees) Deirdre Moran 0-2 (one free), Laura O’Dowd 0-2, Natasha McEnroy 0-1, Vivienne Egan 0-1, Carla Le Guen 0-1, Edel Kelly 0-1, Emma McGovern 0-1.
TEAMS: Limerick: Maire Lyons; Jenni O’Malley, Ciara Ryan (Sarah O’Sullivan 47 mins), Kristine Reidy; Eimear Quinn, Cathy Mee (capt.) (Niamh Ryan 29 mins), Caroline Hickey (Cliodha Ni Cheallaigh 38 mins); Loretta Hanly, Megan O’Shea; Rebekah Daly (Mairead Kavanagh 27 mins), Rebecca Delee, Roisin Ambrose (Carla Sheedy 42 mins); Olivia Gilteanne, Lisa O’Connell (Catriona Davis h/t [Kristy Carroll 60 mins]), Orlaith O’Donoghue (Andrea O’Sullivan 37 mins)
Leitrim: Michelle Hackett; Abbi Sweeney, Louise Maguire, Karen Connolly; Vivienne Egan, Shannon O’Rourke, Claire Owens (capt.); Laura O’Dowd, Eilish O’Dowd; Edel Kelly (Emma McGovern 40 mins), Deirdre Moran, Carla Le Guen; Shauna McGrath, Bronagh O’Rourke (Natasha McEnroy 56 mins), Carmel McGovern.
Referee: John Devin (Galway)