Down Ladies Enjoy Win In Sligo
Senior Ladies Football,
NFL Division 3 Round 3
Venue Fr Brehenry Park, Sunday 11th February 2024,
Final score: Sligo 1-9 Down 1-10
Down ladies made the long journey to Fr. Brehenry Park to face Sligo in round 3 of the National Football League.
Paige Smyth was brought back into defence replacing the unavailable Ciara Byrne along with sharp shooter Aine Smyth writes Paul Devlin.
Smyth has consistently been a leader in points in Down for Loughinisland in the last few seasons and her goal threat would have been a major factor in selection, as Down had struggled to convert chances in their last two games.
Annaclone’s impressive Niamh McClory and Niamh King of Castlewellan also came into the starting 15.
Both are part of a talented group of young footballers breaking into the Senior panel, that highlights the great work happening at the underage levels.
Sligo were looking to bounce back in this game after a heavy defeat last time out against Clare, however, it was the visitors who raced out of the blocks, getting the first three scores.
Sligo replied with a point of their own, but Rostrevor’s Niamh Scullion quickly restored the lead back to three when she converted.
Two Natasha Ferris points sandwiched another Sligo score to extend Downs lead as Sligo struggled to contain the Mourne ladies.
A Sligo goal from Sinead Regan just before half time, got the home side right back into the mix,.
And when referee Siobhan Coyle blew for the break Down would have been disappointed with only having a one point lead despite having most of the play.
The second half would prove to be a much tighter affair with Sligo pushing forward.
The two teams traded a couple of scores each, early in the half. Castlewellan’s Niamh King getting both for Down, Kelly and the impressive Rianne Smith for Sligo.
Lauren Normanly brought the scores level when she cleared the black spot. Another Smith point gave Sligo their first lead of the game but this didn’t last long as Laoise Duffy finished off in style to point for Down.
A Smith free was cheered on by the home crowd as Sligo took the lead once more.
The game now was getting stretched as both teams gave everything. With fifteen minutes left, a good well worked move ended with Down’s talented forward Natasha Ferris getting a vital goal to give the visitors a two point lead.
But Sligo refused to throw in the towel and two points in the space of a minute from Tara Breheny and yet another Rianne Smith score levelled the game with only a few minutes left.
Both teams were pushing for a winner, but right before the end of the game Down won a crucial free.
When faced with unreal pressure there are few in football better than Bryansford’s Natasha Ferris, who put the ball over and gave Down a one point victory and first win of the season.
Sligo will take little comfort in the much improved display from their last outing, losing by a single point in this highly entertaining game.
Speaking after the game Down manager Caoibhe Sloan said: “It was good to get 3 points on the board, but there is still plenty to work on.
“It was also really pleasing to see competitive debuts handed out to Niamh McGrath who came on and was exceptional.
“Niamh King returning from injury is a massive boost to the squad and there’s plenty of competition for places in the team”.
Down Ladies: 1. Amy McGivern Teconnaught 2. Aimee Green Teconnaught 3. Orla Boyle Downpatrick 4. Paige Smyth Downpatrick 5. Natalie McKibbin Bryansford 6. Megan Doherty (C) Carryduff 7. Orla Duffy Bredagh 8. Clara Mulvenna Rostrevor 9. Aoife Laverty Bredagh 10. Niamh Scullion Rostrevor 11. Niamh King Castlewellan 12. Laoise Duffy Bredagh 13. Aine Smyth Loughinisland 14. Natasha Ferris Bryansford 15. Niamh McClory Annaclone.