FOOTBALL: Laois 2-10 (16) Kildare 3-6 (15) – Lidl NFL Division 3 Final
By RONAN O’NEILL
Mo Nerney scored the winning point as Laois were crowned Lidl National Football League Division 3 champions with victory over Kildare.
The O’Moore County will play Division 2 football next year following a thrilling derby in the sweltering heat of Baltinglass.
Nerney scored three points before the break but a couple of great saves from goalkeeper Eimear Barry ensured Laois held a 0-6 to 0-3 half-time advantage.
Neasa Dooley scored the first of her hat-trick of goals for Kildare after the restart, before Sarah Ann Fitzgerald cancelled that out with a goal for Laois. Nerney’s goal looked decisive but two more goals from Dooley brought Kildare back level only for Mo Nerney to pounce for the 59th minute winner.
Laois played into a very strong breeze in the opening half but they took the lead in the second minute when Nerney scored and then doubled her tally from a free.
The Timahoe player helped set up Fiona Dooley for the third Laois point, but it was Barry who was Laois’ saviour down the other end when she pulled off a fantastic save to deny Grace Clifford.
Lara Curran registered Kildare’s first point from a 12th minute free and Curran’s second free meant Laois’ lead was down to the minimum at the first water-break.
Once again Clifford cut through the Laois defence in the 18th minute but was expertly denied by Barry once more. Eva Galvin ended a 16-minute drought when she scored Laois’ next and Nerney quickly fired over another score.
Rachel Williams got forward to extend the lead before half-time and Laois held a double-scores advantage.
Clifford found her range with a good point, but moments later she was denied by Barry again, only for the rebound to ricochet off Dooley and into the net. Kildare now held a 1-4 to 0-6 lead.
Nerney tied things up from a free and Fitzgerald gave Laois the lead. Curran levelled briefly but Fitzgerald slotted a goal after some good work from Mo Nerney.
When Mo Nerney scored her goal it looked as if Laois would canter to victory, but Dooley blasted a stunning goal from a free.
Orlaith Sullivan picked up a late yellow and Dooley completed her hat-trick before Nerney sealed the win in the last minute.
Scorers – Laois: M Nerney 1-5 (2f), S A Fitzgerald 1-1 (1f), F Dooley 0-1, E Galvin 0-1, R Williams 0-1, E Fitzpatrick 0-1.
Kildare: N Dooley 3-0, L Curran 0-5 (4f), G Clifford 0-1.
LAOIS: E Barry; C Dunne, A Potts, A Kelly; R Williams, E Healy, L Nerney; F Dooley, J Moore; A Healy, E Galvin, E Fitzpatrick; M Nerney, S A Fitzgerald, A Havill.
Subs: O Hennessy for Williams (36), L Tarpey for Havill (36), J Dunne for Dooley (41), A Kirrane for Galvin (54).
KILDARE: D McGinn; C Sullivan, L Lenehan, M Doherty; L Murtagh, L Gilbert, H McLoughlin; S O’Sullivan, G Kenneally; C Wheeler, L Curran, G Clifford; E Dowling, N Dooley, A Rattigan.
Subs: S Kendrick for McLoughlin (30), T Duggan for Doherty (30), M McKenna for Wheeler (43), O Sullivan for Dowling (50), C Fagan Hynes for Murtagh (59).
Referee: Shane Curley (Galway).