Women’s football: Dublin, Cork, Galway and Donegal bound for last four

Final round of games will decide the respective Division One semi-final pairings

Mayo’s Tamara O’Connor is tackled by Cork goalkeeper Martian O’Brien and defender Eimear Meaney  during the  NFL Division One clash at Elvery’s MacHale Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Mayo’s Tamara O’Connor is tackled by Cork goalkeeper Martian O’Brien and defender Eimear Meaney during the NFL Division One clash at Elvery’s MacHale Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

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.

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. Shannon McGroddy goaled for the home side in the second half, but they were made to fight all the way for the win when Johanna Maher hit the net for 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.

And in Galway, Sinead Aherne and Siobhán Woods hit a goal in each half as Dublin ended Galway’s unbeaten run with a hard fought four-point win in Moycullen.

Great chance

Aherne’s goal after eight minutes was chalked out by Barbara Hannon’s strike for Galway seven minutes from the interval, and after Dublin led by one at half-time Woods ensured the points were Dublin’s with her goal 12 minutes after the restart.

Meanwhile in Division Two, Armagh’s unbeaten record was ended by Kerry, who picked up a four-point win on the road thanks to two goals from Louise Ní 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.

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