Compiled by Declan Rooney
Lidl league and TG4 All-Ireland champions Dublin, All-Ireland runners-up Cork, Connacht champions Galway and Ulster champions Donegal will compete in this year’s Lidl NFL semi-finals.
Cork’s win over Mayo at MacHale Park means the top four teams cannot now be caught in the top tier and the final round of games in two weeks’ time will decide the semi-final match-ups.
Goals from Niamh Cotter, Doireann O’Sullivan, Orla Farmer and Rhona Ní Bhuachalla gave Cork the win after Mayo had looked the better side for long periods in Castlebar.
Emma Needham hit the net for Mayo as they trailed by one at the interval, while Sinead Cafferky also goaled for the home side, but Cork finished with a flourish to wrap up the win and secure a semi-final spot.
Cork team and scorers: M O’Brien (c); E Meaney, H Looney, M Duggan; D Kiely, A Hutchings, E Kiely; M O’Callaghan, N Cotter (1-1); O Farmer (1-1), E Spillane, C O’Sullivan (0-2); E Scally, D O’Sullivan (1-2), O Finn (0-8/6f). Subs: R Ní Bhuachalla (1-1) for D Kiely (41), M Cahalane for Spillane (55), C O’Shea for E Kiely (60), S O’Leary for Finn (60), L Cleary (0-1) for Farmer (60).
Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald saluted his side’s fighting spirit in Castlebar.
“We started the game sluggishly and that’s not like us. The second-half was more of a reflection of how we played, but we can’t be waiting for 30 minutes to start performing. I am delighted with the girls, the response from them was excellent. Doireann (O’Sullivan) got a great goal and that relaxed us and from there we played really well,” the Cork manager said.
TIPP STAY UP
Donegal only needed a point to make it into the knock-out stages, but Karen Guthrie ensured they claimed all three in Letterkenny with a six-point haul for her side on Saturday v Westmeath.
Despite the loss Westmeath cannot now be relegated after Tipperary did them a favour and defeated Monaghan in Thurles.
The Farney girls have not won any of their six games so far this season and even a win in a fortnight against Mayo cannot save them at this stage.
The accuracy of free-taker Aishling Moloney was key to Tipperary’s win, but Monaghan had cause to regret several missed goal chances, not least two penalties within a minute of each other with Leanne Maguire and Muireann Atkinson failing to convert.
Monaghan did find the net after nine minutes when Cora Courtney scored, but Moloney’s frees and Caitlin Kennedy’s goal wrapped up the win.
Tipperary team and scorers: L Fitzpatrick; L Spillane, S Lambert (captain), E Cronin; B Condon, A.R. Kennedy (0-1), M Curley; C Kennedy (1-0), A Moloney (0-10/9f); A Fennessy, O O’Dwyer (0-1), S Everard (0-1); A McGuigan, R Howard (0-1), C Condon. Subs: L Dillon for Spillane (45), R Daly (0-1) for McGuigan (45), E Fitzpatrick for Fennessy (53).
Despite the loss Westmeath cannot now be relegated after Tipperary did them a favour and defeated Monaghan in Thurles. The Farney girls have not won any of their six games so far this season and even a win in a fortnight against Mayo cannot save them at this stage.
“We are, very relieved,” said Tipp manager Shane Ronayne. “I suppose it wasn’t pretty but that was going to be the nature of it. Monaghan are a very proud county and they knew coming down today that they had to win the game. I suppose we would have had a different challenge next week if we hadn’t got the result today but we’re delighted, were relieved to stay up,” the Mitchelstown native said.
WATERFORD AND LIMERICK WINS
And in Galway, Sinead Aherne and Siobhan Woods hit a goal in each half as Dublin ended Galway’s unbeaten run with a hard fought four-point win in Moycullen.
Meanwhile in Division 2, Armagh’s unbeaten record was ended by Kerry, who picked up a four-point win on the road thanks to two goals from Louise Ni Mhuireachtaigh.
Clare inflicted a one-point loss on Tyrone, which has given them a great chance of reaching the last four.
Cavan had seven points to spare over Wexford, while Waterford edged an eight-goal epic against Laois to maintain their promotion drive.
In the third tier Kildare defeated Down on Saturday thanks to a late rally, while there were wins for Roscommon against Longford, Meath defeated Wicklow to maintain their perfect start to the competition and Sligo romped to a big win over Offaly in Tullamore.
In a very tight Division 4, Limerick claimed the win in Derry, Fermanagh put eight goals past Carlow, Leitrim beat Kilkenny to earn their first win, while Louth were handsome victors over Antrim.