NFL Division Three round-up: Westmeath stay in race with scrappy win over Limerick

Liam Kerr scores two goals as Down continue fine league campaign by seeing off Offaly in Newry

Westmeath 0-14 Limerick 1-8

Westmeath maintained their 100 per cent record in Division Three with a hard-earned three-point win against Limerick in a scrappy game in Mullingar on Sunday afternoon.

Cathal Downes opened the scoring for the visitors in the fourth minute, at which stage no Westmeath player had touched the ball. Ronan Wallace equalised before his opposite number Iain Corbett kicked Limerick in front in great style. James Naughton doubled their lead at the end of a fine move, but Dessie Dolan’s wind-assisted troops scored five unanswered points between the 17th and 30th minutes.

However, Limerick had the deficit down to the bare minimum by the interval (0-6 to 0-5) with scores from goalkeeper Aaron O’Sullivan (a 45) and corner-back Jim Liston in added-time, a fly-kicked effort which could easily have been a goal.

On the change of ends, Westmeath kicked three unanswered points by the 48th minute to open up what looked to be a comfortable four-point advantage, the scores coming from Nigel Harte, very influential sub Kieran Martin, and Danny McCartan (a free). However, Limerick continued to plug away and they halved the gap with scores by Downes and Naughton (a free). In the 63rd minute, David Lynch hit the crossbar when a goal looked certain for the Lake County.


All Star nominee Ronan O’Toole was more prominent in the closing quarter and he scored three crucial points in that period. Westmeath led by 0-13 to 0-8 with just one minute of normal time remaining, but Jimmy Lee’s charges came right back into contention when Downes scored a wonderful goal in the first minute of added-time (four had been announced). It needed veteran Martin to complete a hat-trick of quality points to settle Westmeath nerves and maintain their position of second behind Down on scoring difference.

Westmeath: J Daly; K Maguire, C Drumm, J Gonoud; S McCartan (0-1), R Wallace (0-2), N Harte (0-1); R Connellan (0-1), A McCormack; D Lynch, R O’Toole (0-3), E Mulvihill; R Forde, S Baker (0-1, free), D McCartan (0-2, one free). Subs: K Martin (0-3) for Baker (42 mins), S Smith for Forde (42 mins), J Dolan for Mulvihill (55 mins), C Dillon for D McCartan (64 mins), S Allen for Harte (70 mins).

Limerick: A O’Sullivan (0-1, 45); J Liston (0-1), S O’Dea, P Maher; B Coleman, I Corbett (0-1), C McSweeney; T Childs, C Fahy; J Naughton (0-2, one free), C Downes (1-2), P Nash (0-1, free); J Baynham, R Childs, T Siochru. Subs: T Griffin for Baynham (59 mins), E Hurley for R Childs (67 mins), S Costello for Maher (70+6 mins).

Referee: J Gilmartin (Sligo).


Sligo 1-20 Antrim 1-13

Sligo’s third win of this year’s Allianz Football League has not only boosted their chances of remaining in Division Three for another campaign, but it also keeps them in the promotion hunt.

But it took a big second-half performance to turn things around against Antrim at Markievicz Park as Sligo went from being a point down at the break, 1-9 to 1-8, to eventually coasting to a seven-point victory, 1-20 to 1-13.

Corner-forward Niall Murphy played a captain’s role, scoring 0-8 for the winners, who made hard work of it against an Antrim outfit for whom Patrick McBride was outstanding – he shot half a dozen points at the Sligo town venue but still finished on the losing side.

After Antrim rattled Sligo early on with a scrambled goal from Ronan Boyle, the home side were invigorated by scoring 1-2 without reply – the goal from Cian Lally – to lead 1-7 to 1-3 by the 28th minute.

Antrim, whose campaign has been blighted by several key players being unavailable due to injury, were fortunate that Sligo’s seventh point wasn’t a goal, as Pat Spillane blasted over.

This provoked a reaction from the visitors who reeled off six unanswered points to lead 1-9 to 1-7.

Patrick O’Connor’s point for Sligo stopped the rot and the home side were relieved to hear the half-time whistle.

Sligo’s recovery began within 21 seconds of the restart when Patrick O’Connor pointed again and by the 38th minute they were back in front, 1-11 to 1-10, following further points from Sean Carrabine and Niall Murphy.

An overwhelmed Antrim only managed four points in the second half, and their misery was compounded when wing-back Marc Jordan was black carded in the 70th minute.

Sligo: A Devaney, P McNamara, E McGuinness, E Lyons, B Cox, D Cummins (0-3), N Mullen, P O’Connor (0-3), P Kilcoyne, A McLoughlin, E Smith, C Lally (1-0), P Spillane (0-1), S Carrabine (0-2, 1f), N Murphy (0-8, 4f, 2 marks). Subs: L Deignan (0-1) for P Spillane (h-t), L Towey (0-2) for D Conlon (46), E Smith for A McLoughlin (62), M Gordon for S Carrabine (68), D Quinn for C Lally (68)

Sligo: A Devaney, P McNamara, E McGuinness, E Lyons, B Cox, D Cummins (0-3), N Mullen, P O’Connor (0-3), P Kilcoyne, A McLoughlin, E Smith, C Lally (1-0), P Spillane (0-1), S Carrabine (0-2, 1f), N Murphy (0-8, 4f, 2 ‘mark’). Subs: L Deignan (0-1) for P Spillane (h-t), L Towey (0-2) for D Conlon (46), E Smith for A McLoughlin (62), M Gordon for S Carrabine (68), D Quinn for C Lally (68).

Referee: Margaret Farrelly (Cavan).


Clare 2-15 Wicklow 0-8

Ten years after their last competitive meeting, Clare demonstrated that they still hold the upper hand over Wicklow following a surprisingly one-sided tie in Cusack Park, Ennis on Sunday afternoon.

There were two divisions between the pair this time last year but with Clare’s major turnover of twelve regulars following Colm Collins’ managerial departure at the backend of 2024 following a decade long stint, Mark Fitzgerald’s rebuilding process was expected to be more gradual.

Three nail-biting openers against Sligo, Westmeath and Offaly finally made way for the Banner’s biggest victory of the campaign to date. On the flip side, it was also Wicklow’s lowest point in their new Division Three surroundings.

Last year’s Division Four runners-up did start in encouraging fashion to bely the conditions and edge 0-3 to 0-2 in front by the midway mark of the opening half.

However, a trio of Emmet McMahon frees duly lifted home spirits before they powered into the break backed by a brace of Cormac Murray goals in as many minutes to hold a 2-5 to 0-4 cushion.

Alan Sweeney and Emmet McMahon were the catalysts for Murray, in his first start of the campaign, to ruthlessly find the net in devastating fashion. Buoyed by that purple patch, the Banner put the result beyond any doubt on the restart as Brian McNamara and Aaron Griffin inspired the hosts to tack on the first five points and soar twelve clear.

With only one Christopher O’Brien point in 40 minutes, a rudderless Wicklow did get a bounce from the bench including two Brian Nesbitt singles. However, it was met by a stern Banner backlash as the home side kicked four of the last five points, three from Ciaran Downes, to record their third victory in four outings.

Clare: S Ryan; M Garry, M Doherty, R Lanigan (0-1); E O’Connor, A Sweeney, D Walsh; G Murray, B McNamara (0-2); C Downes (0-3, one free), E McMahon (0-4, four frees), I Ugwueru; C Murray (2-1, one mark), A Griffin (0-3), S Griffin.

Subs: D Nagle for O’Connor (34 mins, inj), J McGann for S. Griffin (47), D O’Donnell (0-1, one free) for Murray (53), J Guyler for Walsh (61, inj), D O’Brien for McMahon (62), J Curran for Ugwueru (69)

Wicklow: S Doyle; M Nolan, M Stone, T Moran; J Prendergast, P O’Kane, E Murtagh; C Maguire, J Kirwan; G Murphy (0-2), D Healy, J P Nolan (0-1, one free); C O’Brien (0-1), K Quinn (0-1, one free), E Darcy (0-1).

Subs: C Baker for Prendergast (ht), B Nesbitt (0-2) for O’Brien (49 mins), C McDonald for Murtagh (49), D Doyle for Maguire (49), O McGraynor for Darcy (49)

Referee: J. Hayes (Limerick)


Down 4-12 Offaly 2-14

A strange game with five second-half goals within eight minutes saw Down retain their unbeaten record in Division Three while Offaly are still in search of their first win after four games played.

A heartbreaking defeat to Clare last time with a penalty late on fired over rather than under the bar, wasn’t enough to spur Declan Kelly’s men to victory in Páirc Esler on Saturday evening.

The visitors had a promising start with the first two points, the opener from Jordan Hayes close to going under the bar.

But Down quickly settled, and aided by a terrific goal from Liam Kerr, who swooped in and drilled into the net after Daniel Guinness had worked his way into the square but lost the ball, they led 1-7 to 0-6 at half-time.

Down began the second half well with Danny Magill fisting over the bar on 37 minutes and half-time sub Ryan Johnston tagged on a point.

But suddenly defences seemed to evaporate at both ends with goals becoming easier to come by than points. Odhrán Murdock was first to hit the net to give Down a 2-8 to 0-7 lead and with that the floodgates opened.

Kerr increased Down’s lead to 10 points with a cracking finish from the edge of the square off the underside of the crossbar but the home crowd had no sooner finished celebrating when Jack Bryant broke down the other end and hit the net. Then a lovely team move between Pat Havern, Kerr and Johnston ended with the latter stroking home Down’s fourth goal.

But there was more to come from Offaly with Keith O’Neill making it 4-9 to 2-9 with another goal on 53 minutes.

Offaly finished the game with 14 men when John Furlong was red-carded on 67 minutes but Down had done enough by then to claim the win.

DOWN: John O’Hare; Peter Fegan, Ryan McEvoy, Ceilum Doherty; Miceal Rooney (0-1), Pierce Laverty, Paddy McCarthy; Odhrán Murdock (1-1), Shane Annett; Caolan Mooney (0-1), Liam Kerr (2-0), Daniel Guinness; Danny Magill (0-1), Pat Havern (0-6, five frees), James Guinness. Subs: Ryan Johnston (1-1) for Annett, Oisín Savage for J Guinness (h-t), Anthony Doherty for McEvoy (42 mins), Jonny Flynn for Mooney (43), Ryan Magill (0-1) for McCarthy (66).

OFFALY: Ian Duffy; Lee Pearson, David Dempsey, Aidan Bracken; Cormac Egan, John Furlong, Jack O’Brien; Eoin Carroll, Peter Cunningham; Kevin McDermott, Ruairí McNamee, Jordan Hayes (0-1); Dylan Hyland (0-2, one free), Keith O’Neill (1-2), Jack Bryant (1-5, five frees). Subs: Anton Sullivan (0-3, one free) for Hyland (20 mins), Cathal Flynn (0-1) for McNamee, Nathan Poland for McDermott (both 45), Rory Egan for O’Brien (53), Adam Bolger for Pearson (63).

Referee: Conor Dourneen (Cavan).

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