HomeFootballLouth in a strong position to advance to LGFA All-Ireland JFC semi-finals...

Louth in a strong position to advance to LGFA All-Ireland JFC semi-finals as group winners

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The Reds delivered arguably their most polished display of the Cooley-native’s reign when fending off a dangerous Limerick outfit in Stabannon a fortnight ago, prevailing by 0-14 to 0-8, and they travel to Pearse Park on Sunday (2pm) having already beaten their opponents, Longford, this term.

That was in a crucial Leinster championship clash, one the Reds simply had to win to retain a chance of qualifying for the provincial showpiece, and though the same level of significance isn’t on this duel from a Wee county perspective, they will, nonetheless, be eager to continue building towards an immediate return to the intermediate ranks.

If Longford win and Limerick see off Kilkenny, as they are expected to, it would leave three teams on six points at the top of the group, bringing score difference into the equation. As it stands, Louth are on +26, while Limerick sit in second, after overcoming Longford, despite the Midlanders having scored more and conceded less over their two matches.

But that is unlikely to remain the case considering the Treaty women oppose a Cats team who have nothing to play for bar pride, so Longford would, in all likelihood, require a considerable margin of victory over Louth in order to give themselves any sort of opportunity of qualification.

Kate Flood delivered when Louth hosted Longford in Leinster and though not at her imperious best in the success against Limerick, her quality remains a significant factor and provided Áine Breen and Aoife Halligan maintain the levels they set the last day, with Niamh Rice also in the forward mix, the Reds have match-winners.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect in recent games has been the greater stability of the team defensively. Éimeár Murray, Céire Nolan and Éilís Hand have contributed largely to a calmer, more composed backline that looks much harder to penetrate than it did earlier in the campaign and it is upon this foundation that performances have steadily improved.

It’s not as though Longford, who finished mid-table in Division 4 and laboured past the Cats in round two of the All-Ireland series, are coming in brimming with confidence.

They led by 3-5 to 1-2 at the interval but a third quarter wobble saw Kilkenny close to within three points and while Longford did added 2-3 late on to seal the deal, the failure to rack up a more considerable triumph could cost Pat Tiernan’s side even if they do pull off an unlikely victory and extend their season.

Katelyn McKeon and Niamh Brady, who scored two goals apiece in their last outing, are players whose influence Louth will look to nullify.

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