Brave Antrim loose out by two points

By Michael Costello

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Wexford V Antrim – Innovate Wexford Park

All Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship  1/7/17  Wexford 0-08 Antrim 0-06

The long haul to Innovate Wexford Park took its  toll on the  18 Antrim camógs who braved the journey and credit is due to them all and in particular to the 6 Ballycastle girls who left  home before 7am for an almost 250 mile trip. Following breakfast in the Carrickdale Hotel  Antrim settled down for the rest of a journey which saw them arrive in Wexford park at exactly 1.00pm for a 2.30pm throw-in.

The bottom line is that for the second week in a row a depleted Antrim team in an away game , missing key players and fielding others carrying injuries, lost by a narrow 2 point margin. Yesterday’s trip must present an argument for a return to half way venues in All Ireland camogie competitions which can only be fairer for both sides.

Antrim won the toss and chose to face the strong wind blowing straight down Wexford Park and managed to open the score when Tír na nÓg’s Áine Devlin in her senior debut pointed well from a free. Wexford tried a few long range wind-assisted efforts to level things but only managed wides until  15 minutes into the game when they won a penalty but were denied by Antrim corner back Cliodhna Donnelly, in only her second senior start, who blocked very well on the line and cleared the danger. Wexford soon drew level ,however , when Aoife Shiel  pointed from play only to have Aine Devlin nudge Antrim ahead again from a placed ball. Wexford put Antrim under pressure for a ten minute spell  but although they were kept at bay by a solid Antrim defence, they managed to take long range scores from Shiel, Byrne and Nolan. Antrim replied  close to half time with a fine solo run and point from Portglenone’s Katie McAleese who had removed a protective splint from a broken finger before the game and insisted on fielding against advice, showing great courage and  commitment .

Half Time Wexford 0-04 Antrim 0-03

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The second half saw a slow start from a jaded Antrim team and Wexford took full advantage as corner forward Aine Shiel , their main threat , took 2 successive points ,one from a free. Antrim worked very hard and  Áine Devlin added another point from a `45 after Maédhbh Laverty had gone close to scoring a goal. The Saffrons brought on two substitutes to add some much needed energy and managed to draw level at 6 points each with a superb point from play by Emily Falloon and a fourth pointed free from  Áine Devlin but they soon  went further behind as  Shiel added a couple more points ,roared on by an enthusiastic home crowd who sensed victory. Emma McFadden joined the attack in a last gasp Saffron effort and appeared to be surrounded and pushed in the square but referee Alan Doheny gave Wexford the benefit of the doubt blowing up the game at a final score of Wexford 0-08 Antrim 0-06.

Manager Aidan McKeown was understandably disappointed after the game, ” That`s the second time in a week we have lost an away game by two late points and it’s hard to take in. We have a very young panel,  mostly  aged 17 to 22 ,with a few older heads like Aileen McManus , Emma McFadden and Katie McAleese but  I know we will improve by leaps and bounds if players stick with the panel and turn up for training every week. You won’t know this group of girls a year from now for there’s so much potential  in it.”

Special mention must go to the handful of  Antrim supporters who made the long trek south and in particular Joan and Patrick Donnelly from Ballycastle who had the unique  experience of seeing  daughters  Niamh, Cliodhna and Aine all appear together for the senior Antrim team. This has only happened once before when the three Connolly sisters from Loughgiel, Emma ,Aine and Laura achieved the distinction last year when Loughgiel (and Orlagh O’Hara) were the senior county team . Antrim have two more games left in the championship. Both games are at home ,against Kilkenny on July 15th and against Derry on August 12th.

Antrim scorers A.Devlin (0-04F) E.Falloon 0-01 K.McAleese 0-01

Antrim Line out – N.Cosgrove (Cushendall), C.Donnelly(Ballycastle) ,K.Donnelly ( Ballycastle), C.Patterson(Cushendall), N.Donnelly ( Ballycastle), E. McFadden ( Loughgiel), S. Martin (Dunloy),

A.Kelly(Portglenone), E.Costello(Naomh Eoin), A.Donnelly (Ballycastle), K.McAleese (Portglenone),

E.Connor(Ballycastle), A.Devlin (Tír na nÓg), E.Falloon(Tír na nÓg), M.Laverty (Naomh Eoin)

Subs-S.Woulahan ( Dunloy), C.McShane( Ballycastle), N.McQuillan (Cushendall).

Wexford lineout- G.Doyle , C.Jackman, A.Brennan, M.Morrisey, L.Walsh, N.Fortune, M.Harding, S.Kelly, A.Cronin, E.Nolan, R.Kelly, D.McMahon, M.Byrne, S.Foley, A.Shiel.


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