Ladies UFL Division 2
Down 7-13 Fermanagh 3-07
2013 Ulster Champions Fermanagh who soundly defeated Down last year in the Ulster final last year, came to Down looking a much needed win in the NFL to keep their hopes alive of avoiding relegation to Division 3 next year writes Barry McConville.
Down have had a monkey on their back since the final and have been keen to shake off, and that day had finally come.
Down comprehensively defeated Fermanagh and secured the rights the Division 2 football in 2015, while Fermanagh are unfortunately left looking for a life line to keep their hopes of staying up alive.
The Down Ladies opened the scoring with a score from play from Lisa Morgan after a free from Pyres dropped short, and Morgan was there to gather it up and put it over the bar. Pyres was soon to put another free over and Down began put their mark on the game. Megan Doherty made a strong solo and found Kyla Trainor who flicked the ball into the path of Jordan Magee cutting through the Fermanagh defence. Magee buried the ball in the back of the net. This was soon followed by a great point from a very difficult angle by Orla Fegan and Down led by 1-03 while Fermanagh had yet to score.
It was a full ten minutes before Fermanagh’s Caroline Little opened the scoring from a free and this was soon followed by another from Maura McDonald. Down though were still attack focused and it wasn’t long before Grainne Kelly got on the score sheet when Trainor found her in space and Kelly coolly hit the back of the net.
Down and Fermanagh swapped points at this stage with Joanne Doonan for the Erne girls taking a good score from play which was immediately followed by one from Trainor at the other side, while Sinead Fegan, not to be out done by the sister Orla, also got on the score sheet.
Down were clearly in control with Lisa Morgan making a lot of play and when she found Clara Fitzpatrick open Fitz turned her marker and made a lovely lob into the top corner of the net and Down looked to be coasting at this stage. However, a small mistake allowed Fermanagh’s Caroline Little make a run on goal. Her shot hit the upright and rebounded out to luckily find their full back Lynne McFedderick eagerly awaiting it and she made no mistake to hit it low and hard under Brannigan thus throwing Fermanagh a lifeline.
Down had the majority of possession but Fermanagh soon found the back of the net again with a high lob over Brannigan which looked like it was going over for a point only to drop short at the last second for a goal. Down replied with a point from a free at the end of the first half and the home side went in at the break 3-05 to 2-03.
Fermanagh came out strong in the second half and got an early goal from Marita McDonald but Down kept their heads. This Down team have never been known to panic and today was never going to be any different. Aileen Pyres took a terrific solo and made a lovely lob over Gleeson to hit the back of the net, and Down let Fermanagh know who was in control today.
A point from Little for Fermanagh was soon cancelled out by a free from Pyres and the game settled down a little with Down dictating the tempo. Pyres scored another free which was quickly followed by another well taken goal by Pyres.
Down dominated the play and Trainor took a good point from play which was soon followed by a goal from Trainor after a lay off from Morgan, while Trainor got yet another after a nice lay off from Ann-Marie Murray. Down looked in control now when Grainne McClean took a good score on her left from a difficult angle.
It was Down at this stage now when Clara Mulvenna made a great run and turned two Fermanagh backs to place the ball square in the back of the net. There was no coming back now Fermanagh and Mulvenna’s goal was the last score of the match.
Down were deserved winners and will now be looking forward to an away trip to Kildare on 27 March. It’ll be another difficult match for them, but Down take every game one at a time and they’ll be focussed and they’ll be ready for a tough away game to a very capable Kildare.