NFL Division Two round-up: Louth end 66-year wait for win over Cork and keep promotion hopes alive

Derry secure promotion to Division One with win over Clare with Louth to face Dublin in promotion decider

Louth 1-10 Cork 0-10

Louth ended a 66-year losing streak against Cork as their four-game unbeaten streak set up a promotion battle with Dublin in Croke Park next week for a place in Division One next season.

If Mickey Harte’s side are successful, they will have climbed all four divisions in successive seasons, while Cork’s hopes of a return to the top flight were ended on a dramatic afternoon in Ardee.

Remarkable as it may seem, Louth will not be daunted by that proposition such is the relentless nature to their play. Again, minus talisman Sam Mulroy, they faced further adversity on the field of play when the returning Steven Sherlock shot Cork five points ahead at one stage in the opening half.

Sticking to the tried and trusted system, Louth hung in and conjured up a lifeline. Ryan Burns was fouled at the end of a rapid counterattack and had the resilience himself to palm home after Cork goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin had done so well to stop his penalty.


The hosts levelled after Cork full back Daniel O’Mahony was red-carded for a high challenge on Conor Grimes.

Louth still trailed at the half by a point but you got a sense they were primed and ready to go for the second half.

Luke Fahy impressively added his second point in the 51st minute but that would be Cork’s last score. Ruairí Deane spurned a glorious goal chance before James Califf saved another.

That left the door ajar for Louth to gain some spirit and fuelled the momentum swing. Despite Donal McKenny picking up a black card, Harte and Gavin Devlin emptied the bench with the required impact.

Eternal substitute Craig Lennon ignited the seven-point turnaround with the first of a five-point scoring run, while Ciarán Downey landed two in that period to seal the win over the Leesiders for the first time since the 1957 All-Ireland final.

LOUTH: J Califf; D Corcoran, P Lynch, D McKenny; L Grey, C Murphy, C McKeever; C Early (0-1), T Durnin (0-2); N Sharkey, L Jackson (0-2), C Grimes (0-1); D McConnon (0-1), C Downey (0-2, one free), R Burns (1-0). 

Subs: B Duffy for Grimes (35 mins), C Lennon (0-1) for Burns (45), O McGuinness for Jackson (54), C McCaul  for McKenny (57), J Hughes for McConnon (66), P Mathews for Durnin (74).

CORK: M Aodh Martin; M Shanley, D O’Mahony, T Walsh (0-1); L Fahy (0-2), R Maguire (0-1), S Meehan; C O’Callaghan, I Maguire; E McSweeney, S Powter, R Deane; C Óg Jones (0-1); S Sherlock (0-4, two frees, one 45), C Corbett (0-1). 

Subs: B O’Driscoll for McSweeney (54 mins), K O’Hanlon for Jones (62), J O’Rourke for Corbett (62), C Kiely 6 for Fahy (73), M Cronin for Sherlock (73).

Referee: F Kelly (Longford).

Derry 0-14 Clare 0-4

Derry defeated Clare by 10 points at Owenbeg to confirm both promotion and a Division Two final.

The visitors dominated both possession and territory for the first 15 minutes of play but will have been disappointed to see the scoreboard reading 0-3 to no score to a much more economical opponent.

The Banner County crashed up against the Derry defensive wall on countless forages forward and they would wait until the 28th minute before Emmet McMahon earned the unenviable distinction of hitting Clare’s first shot of the game, which dropped short in to the arms of Odhrán Lynch.

The home side sucked up all that early Clare pressure and then picked off their opponent with typical efficiency. Niall Loughlin opened the Derry scoring ledger with their first attack, and in just eight more attacks they had hit seven points.

By half-time the home side led 0-9 to 0-0 without really finding top gear.

Shane McGuigan accounted for three of those scores with Ethan Doherty – outstanding in the opening half – hitting a brace. Conor Glass and Conor Doherty both scored monster points apiece as is rapidly becoming their trademarks.

Pearse Lillis finally opened Clare’s account in the 43rd minute but between times Gareth McKinless, Shane McGuigan and Benny Heron stretched the Derry lead to 0-12 to 0-1.

With victory confirmed the home side took the foot off the pedal and were guilty of a number of uncharacteristically sloppy errors. Padraic Collins’s black card left the Banner a man down for 10 minutes midway through the second half but his side still managed to knock over a couple of scores through McMahon, with a brace, and Dermot Coughlan.

But this was once again Derry’s day. Ethan Doherty scored his third point of the day and when McGuigan hit point number five for himself it left Derry 10-point victors.

DERRY: O Lynch; C McKaigue, E McEvoy, C McCluskey; P McGrogan, C Doherty (0-1), G McKinless (0-1); C Glass (0-1), B Rogers; N Toner, P Cassidy (0-1), E Doherty (0-3); B Heron (0-1), S McGuigan (0-5, two frees), N Loughlin (0-1).

Subs: P Cassidy for E McEvoy (40 mins), S Downey for C Doherty (55), C McGuckian for B Heron (63), M Downey for N Loughlin (64), O’Donnell for B Rogers (67).

CLARE: S Ryan; M Doherty, C Brennan, R Lannigan; C Russell, P Lillis (0-1), A Sweeney; C O’Connor, D Bohannon; J Malone, E Cleary, D Coughlan (0-1); I Ugweru, K Sexton, E McMahon (0-2).

Subs: C Rouine for A Sweeney, P Collins for I Ugweru (both h-t), G Cooney for C Russell (43 mins), M Garry for R Lannigan (54), B Rouine for M Doherty (63)

Referee: P Faloon (Down).

Limerick 2-7 Kildare 3-10

The best things come in threes and that is exactly what happened to Kildare in the TUS Gaelic Grounds on Sunday as the relegation-threatened side scored their first competitive goals since the Leinster final last May to overcome a resilient Limerick side.

The 3-10 to 2-7 result in favour of the Lilywhites means Glenn Ryan’s side have all but secured their Division Two status, while the Treaty men have been relegated back down to Division Three.

After a lacklustre opening half during which a goal from Kevin Flynn had put the visiting side 1-6 to 0-4 up at the break, this Division Two clash burst into life in the final 15 minutes with four goals – two from each side – coming in the final quarter.

In an expected tight and tense affair, the first score of the game didn’t come until the fifth minute after Barry Coffey put Kildare ahead with a lovely outside of the boot strike from just inside the 20-metre line.

Two minutes later, the Leinster men doubled their tally as Paddy Woodgate tapped over a close-range free against a very nervous looking home side.

From here, Kildare kicked on and two Darragh Kirwan points without response had Ryan’s charges four points up by the end of the first quarter.

Limerick’s first score of the afternoon came in the 16th minute when James Naughton curled over a well-taken free from out wide, narrowing the deficit to three while doing so.

The game’s opening goal came in the 20th minute when Kildare centre back Kevin Flynn coolly finished to the net after Kirwan and Woodgate linked up well for what was the Lilywhite’s first competitive goal since losing to Dublin in last year’s Leinster final.

Three minutes later, Limerick got their first point from play as Colm McSweeney kicked over to bring the Treaty men back to within four points of Kildare – the home side’s only score from play in the opening 35 minutes.

Kildare, now working it through the lines much quicker than earlier in the game, were 1-5 to 0-3 points up by the 26th minute when Ben McCormack slotted over for Kildare’s fifth point after Limerick goalkeeper Donal O’Sullivan denied Kirwan what was a certain goal.

Both sides exchanged points in the final 10 minutes to see out a lacklustre half with Kildare leading by five at the break – 1-6 to 0-4

Mark Fitzgerald’s charges got their second point from play three minutes after restart after Barry Coleman found space before making it a four-point game and slowly swinging the momentum in Limerick’s favour.

In an equally tense and tight third quarter, albeit with plenty of space in the middle of the field, Kildare scored just the two points compared to one for Limerick as Ryan’s side extended their lead to six heading into the final 15 minutes.

With both sides fighting for survival, the game opened up from here on in and Limerick were rewarded for their second-half efforts when the lively James Naughton collected a blocked high pass before finishing to the back for the net.

Limerick’s resurgence didn’t last long, however, as a minute later, Jack Robinson, only on the pitch four minutes, fisted home a handpassed cross from the impressive Darragh Kirwan to give Kildare their second goal and restore the visitors’ six-point advantage.

The game really burst into life in the final 10 minutes and when Cillian Fahy showcased his soccer skills two minutes from time to finish off a Robbie Bourke cross, it proved to be a very nervy finish for Kildare.

Kirwan sealed the win, however, with a superb back-heel in what was the last kick of the game as Kildare ran out 3-10 to 2-7 winners to secure the Lilywhite’s Division Two status for 2024.

LIMERICK: Donal O’Sullivan; Mike Donovan, Seán O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Barry Coleman (0-1), Colm McSweeney (0-1), Tony McCarthy; Cillian Fahy (1-1, one mark), Cathal Downes; Paul Maher, James Naughton (1-3, two frees), Cian Sheehan; Killian Ryan, Brian Donovan (0-1), Hugh Bourke.

Subs: Adrian Enright for Ryan (35 mins), Gordon Brown for Tony McCarthy (h-t), Peter Nash for Downes (44), Robbie Bourke for Coleman (55), Davy Lyons for Hugh Bourke.

KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mick O’Grady (capt), Shea Ryan, Ryan Houlihan; David Hyland (0-1), Kevin Flynn (1-1), Jack Sargent; Aaron Masterson, Kevin O’Callaghan; Barry Coffey (0-1), Ben McCormack (0-1), Alex Beirne; Neil Flynn (0-1), Darragh Kirwan (1-3), Paddy Woodgate (0-1, one free)

Subs: Daniel Flynn for McCormack (31 mins, inj), Jack Robinson (1-1, one free) for Flynn (52), Paul Cribbin for Beirne (55), Paddy McDermott for Coffey (64), Eoin Doyle for Woodgate (72).

Referee: John Ryan (Cork).