Tir na nOg claim the title in 7 goal thriller

Antrim Intermediate Camogie Championship final replay

Tír na nÓg 4-11 O’Donovan Rossa 3-6

Pics by Bert Trowlen

Last week these sides couldn’t be separated in a dull encounter at Hightown which finished 0-8 each but on Saturday in Ballymena Tir na nOg and Rossa shook off the defensive shackles to produce an enthralling final which produced 7 goal and 17 points over the hour.

In perfect conditions at Slemish Park, both sides served up a thriller with goals from Emily Falloon (2-0), Aine Devlin and Niamh Martin swinging it the way of the Whitehill girls with Devlin, who scored all 8 of Tir na nOg’s points last week adding another six today.

Rossa looked to be gaining the upper hand during the early exchanges but suffered a blow when Múirín Quinn was forced off with an injury midway through the opening half, a severe blow to the Rossa defence who were then hit with a rather fortuitous goal from Emily Falloon that spurred the Randalstown outfit on.

The sides were level early in the second half, but Tír na nÓg again struck with vital goals that saw the contest swing very much in their favour and they pushed on to take the title.

Emily Falloon was a constant threat for the Randalstown side playing in a deep role and behind most of the positive play that Tir na nOg produced while Aine Devlin was again excellent from placed balls.

Despite getting off to a great start with two early goals, Rossa just couldn’t keep up their early momentum as the Tír na nÓg defence got on top and kept a tight rein on their opponents for the rest of the game.

Aine Devlin was Tir na nOg’s only scorer a week ago and she opened their account today from an early free.

However, Rossa quickly settled and after a couple of missed opportunities, they struck for the game’s first goal on five minutes when Orlaith McCall’s long free troubled the Tir na nOg defence and after a mix-up Riona Matthews was on hand to finish to the net.

They were in for a second goal five minutes later when a fine move saw Sarah Armstrong place Matthews who set up Eimear Byrne and the wing-forward fired to the net.

Michaela Press made a good save at the other end from Carla O’Neill but Rossa added to their tally with Natalie McGuinness converting a free to move them 2-1 to 0-1 ahead at the water break.

Múirín Quinn was forced off injured and this seemed to unsettle the Rossa defence as Tír na nÓg stepped up a gear and began to take charge.

Devlin got them on their way from a free and another from play and they struck with their first goal on 25 minutes as Falloon’s long effort dropped to the net.

The scores began to flow for the Randalstown side with Devlin (free), Falloon, Caitlin McGaughey and Michaela Hegarty finding the target but Rossa had the final say of the half from a McGuinness free to leave them just two in arrears at the break and all still to play for in the second half.

The Belfast side made a good start to the second half and two pointed McGuinness frees levelled the contest and she hit another from play before Devlin squared matters once more.

However, Tír na nÓg again took charge with Devlin putting them back into the lead from a free and on 43 minutes they struck decisively and Caitlin McGaughey’s delivery was claimed by Carla O’Neill who found Falloon and she made no mistake as she fired to the net.

The Tir na nOg girls looked to be in for another but Bronagh Orchin cleared off the line from Hegarty who did hit a point moments later as Tír na nÓg led 2-10 to 2-5 at the water break.

They were now in the driving seat and when Niamh Martin robbed Rossa keeper Press with ten minutes remaining before finishing to the net it looked as good as over.

A Hegarty point followed as Tír na nÓg looked to have put the game to bed, but credit to Rossa who refused to give up and after Orlaith McCall landed a long free, they grabbed a lifeline when McGuinness found the net from a close range free to leave just five in it with five minutes remaining.

However, they just couldn’t create the opportunity for another major that really would have set up a grandstand finish as the Tír na nÓg’s closed shop.

Aine Devlin put the icing on another fine individual performance with her long range free dipping to the net to secure a deserved victory to add the Intermediate Camogie title to the Intermediate Hurling one the club won last weekend.

TÍR NA nÓG: A McAtamney; B Devlin, A Mooney, C Martin; EL McAreavey, O O’Neill, Cameron McGaughey; S O’Neill, Caitlin McGaughey (0-1); A Devlin (1-6, 1-4 frees, 0-1 45), C O’Neill, M Hegarty (0-3); N Martin (1-0), E Falloon (2-1), H Crilly. Subs: G Dobbin for H Crilly (HT), D O’Neill for C O’Neill (60+5).

ROSSA: M Press; N Semple, C Quinn, C McMenamin; B Orchin, M Quinn, O McCall (0-1 free); C McNeice, N Killen; R Matthews (1-0), N McGuinness (1-5, 1-4 frees), E Byrne (1-0); S Armstrong, C Shannon, M McGourty. Subs: E Matthews for M Quinn, G Shannon for R Matthews (44).

REFEREE: Owen Elliott (Ballymena)

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