Emotional Dymphna O’Brien fires Limerick to promotion

Limerick gained promotion from Division 4 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League on Saturday – but Waterford and Tipperary must replay for Division 3 honours following a thrilling draw in Clane.

Limerick, after losing Division 4 deciders in 2015, ’12 and ’10, finally got over the line as they beat Antrim by 4-8 to 1-10.

Captain Fantastic Dymphna O’Brien scored 2-5 for the Shannonsiders as they beat Antrim by seven points to make the leap to Division 3 for the 2017 campaign.

Niamh Holland also bagged a brace of goals for Limerick and her second goal was the clincher with her first touch after coming back onto the pitch following a sin-binning.

During the second half, Limerick lost Holland and Megan Kelleher to yellow cards and Antrim, with goalscorer Eimear Gallagher prominent, rallied briefly with an unanswered 1-3 with the Limerick duo off the pitch.

But Limerick regained their composure when Holland slammed home a fourth goal for the winners nine minutes from time and they held out for a comfortable victory.

At half-time, Limerick were well in control, leading by 2-5 to 0-4. With the breeze at their backs in the opening half, the Treaty girls got down to business right from the start as Holland took a pass from Claire Coughlan for the game’s opening score, a goal, in the fourth minute.

Limerick’s second goal arrived in the tenth minute, O’Brien pouncing on Antrim goalkeeper Anna McCann’s error to find the net from close range. Two minutes after the break, O’Brien took advantage of another defensive calamity in the goalmouth to tap home her second goal.

Midfielder Niamh Richardson added a point for Limerick and while Mairead Cooper raised a white flag for Antrim, two O’Brien frees handed Limerick a 12-point advantage – 3-8 to 0-5.

Meanwhile, Maria Delahunty’s free, with 33 seconds left on the clock, salvaged a draw for Waterford in a terrific Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3 final against Tipperary.

Last year’s intermediate champs Waterford led by eight points in the first half, 2-9 to 1-4, but were reeled in by their Munster rivals in the second half, with the sides finishing level, 2-13 to 3-10.

Shelagh Carew’s point looked to have secured the silverware for Tipperary but Delahunty held her nerve to rescue a replay, with the date, time and venue for that to be confirmed.

The sin-binning of Michelle McGrath with nine minutes left on the clock left Waterford hanging on at a crucial stage with 14 players.

Tipp forward Aisling Moloney netted for Tipp soon after, following a goalkeeping error, to bring the Premier County girls to within two points.

Aisling McCarthy and Gillian O’Brien popped over scores to level matters at 3-7 to 2-10 before Tipp’s leading scorer Moloney, who collected 2-4 from play, put them ahead during a real purple patch.

Waterford hit back with a Sinead Ryan leveller before sub Becky Hogan’s point nudged them one clear. It was Tipp’s turn to rouse themselves again as Edith Carroll equalised before Carroll’s lead score. Delahunty’s free ensured ultimate stalemate.


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