Mixed fortunes for Ulster teams on the opening weekend of league action

Compiled by John Fallon

THERE were victories for Leitrim, Fermanagh and Carlow on Sunday as the 2024 Lidl Ladies National Football League got underway with a full set of fixtures in Division 4.

At the home of Feohanagh/Castlemahon GAA in Limerick, meanwhile, the points were shared as the hosts and visitors Wicklow finished level at full-time.

Leitrim, who lost the 2023 Division 4 Final to Antrim, laid down an early season marker with a 2-18 to 0-2 victory over home side Kilkenny at the MW Hire Training Centre in Dunmore.

Leitrim were on top from the start and led by 1-10 to 0-0 at half-time, with Ailbhe Clancy scoring the opening goal of the game before half-time.

Kilkenny continued to battle gamely throughout but Leitrim scored a second goal before the full-time whistle, with Bronagh O’Rourke finding the net late on.

In Donagh, Fermanagh, semi-finalists last year, showed up well against Longford as they recorded a 2-14 to 1-6 victory.

Attackers Eimear Smyth and Bláithín Bogue were in excellent form for Fermanagh and they were very much to the fore in the opening half as the hosts established a 2-9 to 0-4 interval lead.

Elaine Maguire struck for the opening Fermanagh goal on 21 minutes and Niamh McManus followed up with a second major for the winners before half-time.

Longford struck back with a goal from Niamh Brady early in the second half but Fermanagh kept the scoreboard ticking over to claim a crucial win on the opening day.

At Celtic Park, Carlow made the long trip to Derry a winning one, claiming a 3-7 to 2-5 win.

Second half goals from Clíodhna Ní Shé and Fia Murphy proved crucial for the Barrowsiders in an entertaining fixture.

At half-time, Orla McGeough had all four of Derry’s points as the sides were deadlocked at 0-4 to 1-1, with Maeve O’Neill finding the net for Carlow.

Cara Donnelly’s goal after half-time had Derry 1-4 to 1-2 in front but Carlow responded with green flags raised by Ní Shé and Murphy to help establish a 3-4 to 1-5 advantage.

Derry hit back with a goal from Erin Doherty but Carlow, despite losing Murphy to a yellow card late on, held out for a vital win, as the home side were left to rue five wides in the opening half.

Elsewhere, Limerick and Wicklow fought out a draw in their opening game – and they couldn’t be separated at half-time either, with the sides going in level at 0-2 apiece.

Iris Kennelly scored the game’s only goal on the restart to hand Limerick a three-point buffer but Wicklow, with Sinead McGettigan prominent, recovered to claim a 0-6 to 1-3 draw.

Next Sunday, Leitrim will entertain Wicklow, Limerick are at home to Derry, Fermanagh will make the trip to Carlow, and Kilkenny will play host to Longford.

There’s one game in Division 1 next Saturday, with Dublin at home to Kerry at Parnell Park in the live TG4 game at 5.15pm.

In the top flight next Sunday, Galway travel to Cork, Mayo will have home advantage against Meath and Waterford are set for a trip to Armagh.

There’s also a full round of fixtures scheduled for next Sunday in Divisions 2 and 3 of the Lidl National League.

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