All-Ireland Ladies Football Junior Championship Final – Limerick 4-10 Louth 3-8

Limerick defeated Louth by 4-10 to 3-8 in the All-Ireland Ladies Football Junior Championship Final on Sunday at Croke Park.

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies junior football championship final

Limerick 4-10 Louth 3-8

by Jackie Cahill at Croke Park

LIMERICK came from six points down at half-time to claim the All-Ireland ladies junior football championship crown against Louth at Croke Park on Sunday.

The Shannonsiders, beaten finalists against Antrim last year, came storming back in the second half, having trailed by 1-4 to 3-4 at the break.

Tommy Stack’s charges completed a remarkable turnaround in the second half, outscoring Louth by 3-6 to 0-4 as the West County Hotel Cup was secured in emphatic style.

This success marks a very first All-Ireland Ladies football crown for Limerick in the adult ranks and they will now make the step up to the intermediate grade in 2011.

Ultimately, it was the scoring prowess of Marie-Claire Curtin and Dymphna O’Brien that settled an exciting Croke Park decider, as the lethal pair hit 3-10 between them.

Curtin finished up with 2-5, including 1-4 in the second half, while sensational full-forward O’Brien took her championship tally to 13-39 with a 1-5 haul.

Clodagh Reidy completed the scoring for Limerick, beaten Bord Gáis Energy NFL Division 4 finalists this year, and it was the wing-forward’s stunning goal four minutes into the second half which sparked a spirited revival.

Having cruised into the final with four comfortable victories, Limerick received their stiffest test of the entire season as Louth, who had come through arguably the tougher side of the draw, produced their best performance of the year.

2-1 from full-forward Anne-Marie Murphy helped to establish that six-point lead for the Leinster outfit while influential centre forward Kate Flood scored the other first half goal.

The sides were level at 0-2 apiece with 17 minutes on the watch before the game exploded into life when Murphy bagged two Louth goals in as many minutes.

Wing forwards Susan Byrne and Sandra Lynch combined to place Murphy for her first goal to hand Louth a 1-2 to 0-2 lead.

And within a minute, Murphy was fouled by experienced Limerick full-back Sandra Healy, who later went off injured, before picking herself up to convert the resultant 19th minute penalty.

Limerick badly needed a kick-start and they got it in fortuitous fashion in the 20th minute of a goal-filled spell as Curtin’s free from 30m drifted into the net over the head of Louth goalkeeper Caoimhe Breen at the Canal End.

Reidy went close to a second Limerick goal two minutes before half-time when her shot drifted just wide before Louth struck again at the perfect time, just seconds before the half-time hooter, for a third goal.

Lynch was involved again as her free was superbly fisted home by Flood to give Louth valuable breathing space at the midway point.

The second half was a different story, however, as Limerick piled on the pressure and Louth lost two players – corner back Aine McGee and wing forward Byrne – to yellow cards.

Limerick hit Louth with an unanswered 1-2 after half-time, the goal brilliantly smashed into the top corner at the Hill 16 end by Reidy in the 34th minute, before experienced midfielder Orlaith Kirk hit Louth’s opening point of the second half.

Back came Limerick with a 40th minute goal to take the lead for the first time in the match as O’Brien’s shot came off the crossbar and Curtin picked up the pieces from close range.

Now 3-6 to 3-5 clear, Limerick had a lead they would not relinquish and O’Brien put the icing on the cake six minutes from time when she slotted the ball into an empty net after Breen had tipped Reidy’s shot onto the post.

Scorers for Louth: A.M. Murphy 2-1 (1-0 pen), K Flood 1-2, O Kirk 0-2, S Byrne, M Reid (f) & C Page 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: M.C. Curtin 2-5 (1-3f), D O’Brien 1-5 (0-2f), C Reidy (1-0).

LOUTH: C Breen; A McGee, S Quinn, G Lynch; P Marmion, A.M. Lynch, S McDonald; O Kirk, R Heaney; S Byrne, K Flood, S Lynch; M Reid, A.M. Murphy, C Page.

Subs: G Rogers for McDonald (36), G Mackin for Reid (41), L O’Neill for Marmion (41).

LIMERICK: C Murphy; M O’Brien, S Healy, A Neary; E McGuire, Y Moynihan, P Donnelly; E Enright, S Larkin; J Garvey, M Flanagan, C Reidy; J O’Gorman, D O’Brien, M.C. Curtin.

Subs: L Higgins for Healy (inj, 22), L Higgins for Garvey (39), O Giltenane for Moynihan (inj, 46).

Referee: J Niland (Sligo)