By Kieran Murphy
A MOTIVATED and ruthless Carlow ladies maintained their unbeaten NFL Division 4 record when they put a disappointing Derry side to the sword with relative ease at the IT Carlow grounds on Sunday.
The 20-point winning margin told its own story and the only surprise was the visitors actually stole into an early lead when their full-forward Leonie McElroy landed a point in the opening 30 seconds.
After that, except for a short spell in the second half, it was a procession. Inside two minutes Niamh Kelly shot over two points and further scores from Cliodhna Ní Shé, Aibhe Kiernan and Emer Cawley saw the home side ease clear.
The first goal arrived on 18 minutes when Niamh Forde spotted Cawley in a better position in front of goal. Her pass was perfect and the ball receiver had a simple task to find the net from close range.
Shortly before this both sides had goal chances and Carlow keeper Nicole Hanley came forward to make the block from Nicole Nugent while at the Bagenalstown end Ní Shé saw her fisted effort saved by Carolyn Burke in the Derry goal.
The Carlow pressure yielded two more goals before the break with Ní Shé and Shauna O’Neill finding the net to help their side into a 3-7 to 0-3 interval lead.
Derry came at the home side early in the second half with Breena O’Loughlin and McElroy pointing. They created a number of half goal chances but Carlow were alert and forced their opposition to shoot hurriedly but wide.
After surviving a number of mini-scares, they hit back for another goal. Substitute Lauren Dwyer needed two attempts from close range but her persistence paid dividends when her first effort hit the upright.
That knocked the life out of the Derry mini-rally and Carlow, using the roll on, roll off substitute rule, gave their fringe players an opportunity to show what they could do. Aibhe Kiernan scored her side’s fifth goal with just 10 minutes left to play to underline an excellent performance and give the whole squad huge confidence going into the next series of games where they will face bigger tests.
Carlow: Nicole Hanley; Amy Hanley, Anne Roche, Oonagh Fitzpatrick; Antoinette Dowling (0-1), Ellen Atkinson, Niamh Murphy; Niamh Forde, Caoimhe O’Neill (0-1); Maria Kinsella, Emer Cawley (1-1), Aibhe Kiernan (1-1); Shauna O’Neill (1-0), Cliodhna Ní Shé (1-4, 0-2 frees), Niamh Kelly (0-2). Subs: Jasmine Dowling for O’Neill (22 mins), Niamh Bambrick for Cawley (h/t), Lauren Dwyer (1-0) for O’Neill (37 mins), Ellen Murphy for Murphy (50 mins), Anna Doyle for Kelly (52 mins), Shannon Cotter for Fitzpatrick, Dannah O’Brien (0-1) for A Hanley (50 mins).
Derry: Carolyn Burke; Niamh McElroy, Dania Donnelly, Orlaith Hegarty; Deabhana McElhinney, Ciara McGurk (0-1 free), Danielle Kivlehan; Nicole Nugent, Anna Frizelle; Rhianna Curran, Catherine McKenna, Breena O’Loughlin (0-2, 0-1 free); Nuala Browne, Leonie McElroy (0-3), Emma McIvor. Subs: Casey McKenna for Frizelle (22 mins), Hannah Mullan for McElhinney (26 mins).
Referee: Ciaran Groome (Offaly)