By Jackie Cahill in Clane
Longford's deadly inside forwards Sarah Tierney and Michelle Farrell collected 2-8 between them as the Midlanders saw off dogged Wicklow by five points to claim the Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 4 title.
Tierney scored 1-3 and Farrell 1-5 as Longford, managed by former Armagh boss James Daly, secured promotion back to Division 3, having been relegated to the bottom tier in 2015.
It’s Longford’s first League crown since their 2012 Division 4 success and they were full value for it in Clane, despite a spirited second half fightback from Wicklow.
When Tierney netted in the 38th minute, Longford had their biggest lead of the game, 1-9 to 0-5, but Wicklow cut that deficit back to two points on separate occasions before full-time.
A brilliant Wicklow move culminated in a 43rd minute goal for sub Katie Miley and that sparked a Garden County revival.
Another sub, Laurie Ahern, clipped over a point with nine minutes left and Longford’s lead was cut back to just two.
Farrell and Helena Dowling traded points before Farrell, who had rattled the Wicklow crossbar twice in the first half, did so again.
This time, however, the lethal Colmcille forward was on hand to follow up from close range for a match-clinching goal, four minutes from time.
In greasy conditions, Longford were 0-8 to 0-4 ahead at the break, while also registering seven wides in the opening half.
Farrell was extremely dangerous for the Midlanders and she tested the Wicklow woodwork in the sixth minute, having played a lovely one-two with Aisling Reynolds, scorer of two first half points.
On the follow-up, Tierney’s point effort struck the upright and rebounded wide, with Longford extremely unlucky on both occasions.
Three minutes later, Farrell crashed another shot off the bar but this time, Tierney made no mistake in the follow-up passage of play, raising a white flag.
Farrell and Tierney were useful outlets inside for Longford and in that first half, Tierney picked off three points from play, with Farrell adding two from play and a converted free, a healthy 0-6 haul for the pair.
Centre forward Reynolds was also influential, picking off two points, while Wicklow’s most impressive forward in the first half was Amy Murphy, who notched a brace from play.
Longford got off to a flier, registering the first three scores of the game, Tierney on the mark with the opener before Reynolds scored two, one off her right boot and the second off the left.
Wicklow finally got off the mark in the eighth minute, midfielder Jackie Kinch on target, but Longford had much the better of the opening half and were full value for that four-point interval lead.
It was set up for a cracking second half and the end result was very much in the melting pot before Farrell’s late goal.
A close encounter had been anticipated as just three points separated the teams in the last round of group fixtures, Longford prevailing too on that occasion.
But Farrell and Tierney were the match-winners, while Longford also had an excellent defensive display from full-back Leanne Keegan.
Scorers for Longford – M Farrell 1-5 (0-2f), S Tierney 1-3, A Reynolds 0-2.
Scorers for Wicklow – K Miley 1-0, C Walsh 0-3f, A Murphy 0-2, J Kinch, L Ahern & H Dowling 0-1 each.
Longford – M Kilkenny; S Hughes, L Keegan, M Moore; E Heaney, L Farrell, M Noonan; J Brady, M Reynolds; A McDonnell, A Reynolds, A O’Hara; A Greene, S Tierney, M Farrell.
Subs – A Darcy for Greene (15), N Darcy for Moore (38), A McCormack for O’Hara (38), A Duffy for McDonnell (44), A McGowan for A Reynolds (57).
Wicklow – G Norton; S.J. Winder, S Hogan, S Byrne; A Gillen, N McGettigan, J Nolan-Byrne; A Gorman, J Kinch; E Mulhall, C Walsh, S.M. Cullen; C Byrne, L Hogan, A Murphy.
Subs – K Miley for L Hogan (29), C Fox for S Byrne (h.t.), L Ahern for Gillen (38), R Byrne for Mulhall (46), H Dowling for Walsh (51).
Referee – N McCormack (Laois)