Antrim 9-13 Derry 6-8
Antrim and Derry played out a score fest in Sundays final Group 1 game of the Ulster Championship at Fr Maginn Park Glenravel. Antrim Captain, Maeve Mulholland, won the toss and played with the advantage of a gale force wind in the first half. The fruits of this decision soon were rewarded in a whirlwind opening 10 minutes which saw the Saffron’s race into a 4-4 to no score advantage. Within 30 seconds of the throw in, corner forward Niamh McKay had scored the hosts first goal of the day and this was swiftly followed up by an Ellen Morgan major. Derry were struggling to get the ball beyond their 45 line and a 4th minute Natasha Clarke point was followed up a minute later by a fine McKay individual effort on receipt of a Mulholland line ball. A goal bound Clarke effort was then deflected into the Derry goal by full back Anna O’Hagan. Morgan scored a point while centre forward Maria Sestakova pointed after a splitting run from midfielder Bronagh Laverty. The saffron tide did not relent as Clarke goaled on the tenth minute this was soon followed up with a Morgan point and another from Clarke. Morgan intercepted the resulting kickout and her shot to the top corner of the net left the Derry goal keeper, Emily Brownhill, with no chance of getting a hand to her rasping shot. Glenravel trio of McKay, Aimee Traynor & Laverty scored the next 3 points. McKay coolly slotted over a 22m effort on the pavilion side and Traynor took a similar score on the right wing after good work from wing forward Sianeese Maybin. Straight from the kickout the industrious Laverty ran through the middle of an over worked Derry defence to split the posts and open up a 24 point lead. 2 further Morgan points on the 22nd and 26th minutes arrived either side of a fine solo major from Traynor. After receipt of the ball on the far side line, the sharp shooter went on a mazy run leaving 5 defenders in her wake and bearing down on goal, made no mistake. In a rare Derry first attack of the half, full forward Orla O’Kane was upended inside the square and she stepped up to precisely slot the subsequent penalty to the net. O’Kane then on the half time whistle, claimed her second goal after a mix up in the Antrim defence and the 29 point lead was now pegged back to 23.
The second half was a different game all together. Antrim rang in the half time changes but it was Derry who started the half in the same fashion that they ended the first. Mid fielder Annie Ni Lochainn pointed straight from the throw in. O’Kane got another goal for Derry and although Sestakova scored a point for Antrim into a strengthening gale, O’Kane immediately responded with 2 goals in quick succession. An O’Kane pointed free was backed up with 2 points within a minute from centre forward Niamh Hannon and when Mary Ni Lochainn pointed on the 11th minute there was 10 points separating the teams. Cool heads were required for in the Antrim defence and although Anna Quinn pointed for Derry on the 15th minute, the saffron rear-guard began to take control and win their personal battles again. An excellent interception and turnover by Antrim corner back Siantelle Boyd was smartly worked through the hands up the field to Aimee Traynor and a cracking shot crashed to the net to the relief of the home support. O’Kane replied again with 2 unanswered points and when the games top scorer was subsequently sin binned, the Antrim confidence grew. The half back line of Kerry McConville, Duana Coleman and Mulholland drove their team forward and when Ciara McGlinchey ran from deep to get on the end of a well worked team move, another green flag was raised. As the long whistle drew near Anna Ni Lochainn again narrowed the gap to 10 points but Antrim were not finished yet as Sestakova scored another major while Clarke finished off the day’s play with a fine point into the breeze that just dipped over the bar.
All in all, this was a useful workout for both squads as they prepare for the Ulster semi-finals. The wind played a major role in both halves however both teams played with plenty of heart and effort. Derry now proceed to the C semi-final while Antrim’s destiny is as yet uncertain, as they enter a 3 way playoff with Armagh & Monaghan to see which county progress to the A/B or C semi-finals.
Antrim: Erin Culbert, Siantelle Boyd, Caragh Shannon, Ainerose McKenna, Kerry McConville, Duana Coleman, Maeve Mulholland (C), Niamh Quinn, Bronagh Laverty (0-1), Sianeese Maybin, Maria Sestakova (1-2), Natasha Clarke (2-3), Aimee Traynor (2-1), Ellen Morgan (2-4), Niamh McKay (1-2), Orla Donnelly, Sara Gartside, Ciara McGlinchey (1-0), Naomh Steele, Naoise Farrelly, Mairead Murray, Eireann Boyd
Derry: Emily Brownhill, Eaodain McToal, Anna O’Hagan, Aimee Cassidy, Jodie Canning, Sorcha McCann, Niamh Peoples (C), Annie Ni Lochainn (1-1), Aoife Doyle, Mary Ni Lochainn (0-1), Niamh Hannon (0-2), Leah McBride, Kate Quigley, Orla O’Kane (5-3), Anna Quinn (0-1)