By Dan Bannon
A blistering start from Louth sent them on their way to All-Ireland Under 16 C Ladies Football Championship glory over a valiant Sligo side at Our Lady of Lourdes Park, Mullahoran, Co Cavan.
Louth racked up 6-18 but this wasn’t as one-sided as the scoreline suggested. Louth goalkeeper Rebecca Lambe Fagan was in fine form and when substituted late on, she deservedly received rapturous applause, such was her telling contribution.
Louth wing forward, Róisín Maguire was the final’s outstanding player.
Her scoring exploits aside were standout but her overall work rate and ability to put pressure on the Sligo kick-out was key in the early stages.
Sligo attacker Leah Duffy, daughter of former inter county referee Marty, brought the fight to Louth singlehandedly at times with her own tally of 1-6.
Louth played six games en route to the final, while Sligo on the other hand played two games, and that cohesion made all the difference to the Wee County girls as they raced into 2-6 to 0-0 lead.
Louth centre forward Rachel Leonard raced through to find the net in the opening minute and Ellen McBride landed Louth’s second goal, with the ball having struck the same post twice and crossbar in the build-up.
Sligo did fight back through the outstanding Duffy at full-forward and she opened her side’s account with a penalty goal on the 12th minute.
Maguire had the final say of the half from a penalty, to make it 3-8 to 1-5 at the half time whistle.
The introduction of substitute Sarah Kiernan was telling for the Yeats County as she landed 2-2 in the second period to provide Sligo with some hope.
However, Abi Keenan quickly cancelled out Sligo’s good work with a brace of goals, either side of substitute Sarah Gilmore’s major, in an outstanding second half display, to make sure Louth Captain Caitlin O’Reilly was going to lift the cup.
SCORERS: LOUTH: R Maguire 1-6 (1-0pen,1f), A Keenan 2-3, R Leonard 1-2, S Halligan 0-3, E McBride and S Gilmore 1-0 each, M Duffy 0-2(2f), S Turley, and A Briscoe 0-1 each
SLIGO: L Duffy 1-6 (1-0pen, 1f) S Kiernan 2-2(1f), M Casserley 0-2, C Henry and L Oates 0-1 each
Louth: R Lambe Fagan; A Farrell, C O’Reilly, Á Carolan; E McEntaggert, K Carolan, L Johnson; S Turley, M Duffy; A Briscoe, R Leonard, R Maguire; A Keenan, E McBride, S Halligan. Subs: S Gilmore for Briscoe (35), L McElroy for A Farrell (45), C Crichton for McBride (57), R Hynes for Leonard (58), KA Darcy for Lambe Fagan (59).
Sligo: C Flanagan; E Norman, O Fleming, E Feeney; M Kelly, E Hamilton, C Connor; A Kennedy, L Oates; S Dalton, F Feeney, A O’Brien; M Casserley, L Duffy, C Cox. Subs: S Kiernan for Dalton (15), C Henry for Connor (ht), E Taheny for E Feeney (ht), C Gilligan for O’Brien (56).
Referee: K McKeever (Armagh)Tweet