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Women bring more honour to Down with All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football title

I could not have asked for more of the girls: Copeland

By John Campbell

September has yielded an unexpected rich harvest of All Ireland success for Down – and the indications are that 2015 could prove even more fruitful.

Hot on the heels of the All-Ireland Premier Junior camogie championship coup earlier in the month came a stunning Intermediate Ladies Football triumph yesterday that further cemented the role the fair sex is playing in keeping major honours flooding into the Mourne county.

In overcoming a gallant but technically inferior Fermanagh by a whopping 6-16 to 1-10, Down not only underlined their power, finishing skills and almost telepathic cohesion but flashed out a warning that they will pose a major threat in the senior ranks next year. For now, though, the team can bask in the euphoria of a job well done. Manager Mark Copeland, though, made it clear that they took nothing for granted in advance of yesterday's Croke Park showdown.

"We knew from our previous meetings with Fermanagh that they would be dangerous but the fact that we got three first-half goals stood to us and we were able to push on from there," he said, "I could not have asked for more of the girls."

Aileen Pyres, Lauren Cunningham and Lisa Morgan had all found the Fermanagh net before half-time by which stage Down led by 3-6 to 0-6, Fermanagh's points coming from occasional raids with the Ulster champions' defence for the most part containing their efforts.

But it was in the third quarter that Down cut loose with superb substitute Kyla Trainor, Morgan and Pyres in the vanguard of their sustained onslaught.

Down could even afford to toss away a penalty chance when Morgan's kick was brilliantly saved by Shauna Murphy and it was Caroline Little who provided a modicum of comfort for the Erne team when she scored their only goal.

Down, despite having Orla Boyle and skipper Niamh McGowan sin-binned, pirated a sixth goal through player of the match Trainor and then picked up three more points in an emphatic closing spell.

DOWN: S Brannigan; O Boyle, E Downey, J Magee 0-1; O Fegan, N McGowan, S Fegan 0-1; K McMullan, E Kane; G McClean 0-1, L Cunningham 1-2, S McNamee 1-1; M Grant, A Pyres 1-5 (0-2f) L Morgan 1-1 (1-0 pen). Subs: K Trainor 2-4 for Grant (20), M Doherty for McClean (46), J Foy for McNamee (50), G Kelly for Morgan (54), H Murray for S Fegan (55).

FERMANAGH: S Murphy; R Gallagher, K McManus, S McQuade; M Monahan 0-1, T Little, D Maguire 0-1; C Little 1-4 (3f), Á McHugh; S Hamilton, A Moane 0-1, J Doonan 0-1; S Little, N Connolly 0-2, M McDonald. Subs: L McFrederick for McQuade (35), N Daly for McHugh (39), M McDonald for T Little (50), C Cadden for Doonan (56), S McCausland for S Little (56).

Referee: M Doherty (Wexford).

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