Antrim Junior championship final
Ahoghill 4-14 Creggan 0-7
THE Graham cousins were the key to Ahoghill taking the Antrim Junior championship crown for the first time in a quarter of a century in Portglenone on Saturday.
Noreen weighed in with four goals and four points, while Caitriona fired over nine frees from all distances. But in reality Creggan were always playing catch up after Áine Graham opened the scoring for Ahoghill after 35 seconds.
Although Ciara McCollum tapped over a point in the next attack, goals from Noreen Graham in the 4th and 7th minutes put the winners into a healthy 2-2 to 0-2 lead.
Three frees from Caitriona during the next five minutes stretched that lead before Creggan had their best spell in the game with two frees from Susan McElwee either side of a fine point from Alicia McAuley that brought the score to 2-5 to 0-5 after 20 minutes.
Ahoghill’s ten minutes’ dry spell ended when Noreen Graham cut in from the wing and completed her hat-trick in the 22nd minute and they led by 3-6 to 0-5 at the change of ends.
Despite a point from Fiona Maguire on the re-start, the Grahams fired over six points by the three-quarter mark when Alicia McAuley picked off a rare point for the Lough shore girls.
Right at the end Noreen Graham fired home her fourth goal to complete the scoring and send her team through to an Ulster quarter-final meeting next Saturday against the Down champions, Ahagderg.
While the Grahams supplied the scores, Ahoghill were a solid enough team throughout and Eadaoin McGarry, Tracy Hardy and Máiréad McCloskey controlled defence with Angela Townsend bringing off two or three good saves during the first half when a goal might well have lifted Creggan.
In general play around the middle of the field Caitriona Graham was prominent, well supported by Fiona Blaney.
Creggan fell behind early in the game, but they showed good battling spirit throughout with Aoife McAteer, Martine McCann and Anita McAuley their more prominent players. However they found it very difficult to get to grips with the pacey Noreen Graham and they also conceded too many frees that Caitriona Graham fired home for a comfortable victory.
It was an emotional speech from the Ahoghill Captain after the game as she dedicated the win to the club’s young Gael Claire McGuigan who passed away earlier in the year. Claires two sisters were part of the winning Ahoghill team.
Ahoghill : Angela Townsend, Nicola Doherty, Mairead McCloskey, Sinead McKenna, Emma McGlone, Eadaoin McGarry, Tracy Hardy, Caitriona Graham 0-9 frees, Fiona Blaney, Paula Gribbin, Aine Graham 0-1, Maura Downey, Anne Marie O’Neill, Noreen Graham 4-4, Ciara McGuigan
Subs : Caitlin McLaughlin, Dearbhla Graffin, Marian Graham, Fionnuala McKeever, Caitlin O’Hagan, Hannah Downey, Brona McGuigan, Bronagh Graffin
Creggan : Clare McIlwee, Sile Murray, Sarah Maguire, Megan Nelson, Rosie O’Hara, Ciara McAuley, Aoife McAteer, Martine McCann, Anita McAuley 0-2, Eleanor Shivers, Alicia McAuley, Susan McIlwee 0-3 frees, Caitriona McAteer, Fiona Maguire 0-1, Ciara McCollum 0-1.
Subs : Kelly Mulholland, Caitrion McAteer, Niamh McCloy, Katie McCann, Paula McAuley, Mya Quinn, Caoimhe McAteer, Eimear McBride, Aoife McCloy, Niamh Allen
Referee : Owen Elliott