Devlin hat-trick set Antrim up for win

Ulster Minor Championship semi-final : Antrim 5-12 Armagh 3-1
A semi-final in the Ulster championship to start February! This game in Ahoghill had all the hallmarks of a first game of the season, first touch a little off for half the players, more individual effort than team play and errors all over the pitch.

Nevertheless Antrim was the more assured team although they struggled at times for scores in the opening half despite dominating the play. Nuala Devlin however broke through from half-forward on several occasions and scored 3-1 so that the Saffrons led by 3-4 to 1-1 at the break.

Antrim had gifted Sinéad Quinn a goal in the 24th minute, but Devlin cancelled that out with her third goal a couple of minutes before half time.

Although Caitlin Heggarty and Aoife Delargy pointed on the resumption, goals from Katie Comiskey and Melissa Hughes pulled Armagh right back into contention at 3-6 to 3-1.

However the comeback quickly faded with Katie Laverty getting on top at midfield, sub Brid Magill making an immediate impact with a 46th minute goal and a string of points from Riana McBride putting Antrim out of sight.

Aoife Delargy scrambled a last minute goal to gloss the score-line from an Antrim perspective with Magill adding an excellent point in injury-time.

Brigid Delargy was sound at full-back, carrying her school form through the county, while Riana McBride did a lot of damage from placed balls and frees. Nuala Devlin in the first half was excellent but the Ballycastle forward had to retire just after the break with a back injury. Her replacement Brid Magill didn’t waste time in getting involved.

Meanwhile Derry overwhelmed visiting Down in Bellaghy with Caitriona Toner scoring five goals in the opening half alone as the home side led by 8-7 to 0-0 at the break.

Down scored three points in the second half, but they were well off the pace and couldn’t stop Derry from progressing to next week’s semi-final with Tyrone.

The final will take place on February 22nd and is likely to have Derry as Antrim’s opponents.

Before then Antrim will face Clare in the All-Ireland championship at a halfway venue on February 16th, just 24 hours after Cross and Passion play Loreto Kilkenny in the All-Ireland schools’ Junior semi-final in Kilkenny.

Antrim : Orla Donnelly, Katie Rose Bell, Brigid Delargy, Cara Shannon, Anna McNeill, Enya McShane, Riona Matthews, Katie Laverty, Roisin Ward, Aoife Delargy (1-1), Nuala Devlin (3-1), Caitlin Heggarty (0-2), Eimear Shannon, Riana McBride (0-7, 0-4 frees), Rachel Bonnes

Subs : Brid Magill (1-1) for N Devlin, Niamh Neeson for E Shannon.

Armagh : Maeve Callaghan, Aideen Carroll, Clodagh Gaffney, Maeve O’Hare, Kate Crilly, Anita McKearney, Clara O’Kane, Éabha Lennon, Katie Comiskey (1-1 frees), Shannon Morgan, Caoimhe Donnelly, Sinead Quinn (1-0), Aoife Forker, Hannah Duffy, Melissa Hughes (1-0).

Referee : Malachy McToal (Derry).

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