by Jackie Cahill
EPHIE Fitzgerald’s Cork moved ominously to the head of affairs in Division 1 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League on Saturday.
With three of the four top-flight games down for decision on Sunday, Cork took their early chance to claim an impressive 3-9 to 1-8 victory away to Mayo on Saturday afternoon.
In what was a repeat of last year’s Division 1 final, Mayo slumped to their third loss in four outings, as Cork made it three wins from four games.
Cork are now three points clear at the top on nine points – three ahead of chasers Donegal, Galway and Dublin.
Cora Staunton scored eight points for Mayo and Sarah Rowe contributed their goal but Cork hit Mayo early and never looked back in Swinford.
After two early Staunton points, the visitors clicked into gear with two goals in as many minutes, Eimear Scally and Brid O’Sullivan on target.
Rowe responded with a Mayo goal but the hosts trailed by four points at half-time, 1-4 to 2-5, before Cork, with the breeze at their backs, kicked for home.
Behind by 1-4 to 2-6, Mayo’s race was run when a goalkeeping error allowed leading scorer Orla Finn (1-4) to pounce for Cork’s third goal of the afternoon.
Cork had little difficulty in closing the game out and the only blot on their seasonal copybook to date is a surprise loss to Armagh in round 2.
In Division 2, Waterford moved to the summit with a big 2-15 to 0-6 victory over Kildare.
Boosted by the return from injury of Maria Delahunty, the Déise impressed in what was a repeat of the 2015 TG4 All-Ireland intermediate decider.
Delahunty scored the Waterford goal in the first half as Pat Sullivan’s charges went on to establish a comfortable 1-9 to 0-5 half-time lead.
Aileen Wall, who scored two goals in that All-Ireland final, netted in the second half as Waterford collected their second win from four outings.
Clare, meanwhile, earned their first win of the campaign, winning by 0-12 to 0-9 on their trip to Westmeath.
Niamh O’Dea was prominent for Clare with key scores in the second half, as Sarah Bohannon also impressed for the Banner County.
At half-time, Clare were behind by two points, 0-3 to 0-5, but they produced an accomplished second half performance to claim the win, on a day that saw Tara Kelly make her full senior inter-county debut.
In Division 3, pace-setters Tipperary made it four wins from four outings with a 5-10 to 2-10 victory against visiting Meath at Sean Treacy Park in Tipperary town.
Aisling Moloney bagged a brace of goals for the Premier County, as Jennifer Grant, Caoimhe Condon and Cathriona Walsh also found the back of the Meath net.
Also in Division 3, Roscommon ran out 3-7 to 0-7 winners at home to Down, as Offaly won by 1-14 to 1-3 away to Limerick.
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1
Mayo 1-8 Cork 3-9
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 2
Westmeath 0-9 Clare 0-12
Waterford 2-15 Kildare 0-6
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3
Roscommon 3-7 Down 0-7
Tipperary 5-10 Meath 2-10
Limerick 1-3 Offaly 1-14