Antrim have room for improvement, but the win is what matters

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate championship

Antrim 5-10 Carlow 4-9

LOOKING at the final score-line in this Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate championship game in Inniskeen it would appear that Antrim were pushed close by Carlow, but in reality the winners were in control from early in the game, generally had a lead of between eight or nine points, only to concede a goal and two points in injury time.

Maeve Kelly runs at the Carlow defence

However overall it was a patchy performance although joint manager Jim McKernan was happy enough.

“That gets us up and running. We haven’t done a lot of work to be fair and you can only get so much from an in-house training game.

“Then you had the goings-on yesterday and we probably were down in Inniskeen far too early because we were not sure about the garda checkpoints and all.

“When you put all those things together, I think that we did pretty well and we won the game which was the whole point.

“Yes we were a little rusty and we can build on that performance for the next game.”

Although Antrim were hanging around for about two hours before throw-in, they were out of the blocks fairly quickly with Nicole O’Neill on the sliotar a lot during the opening quarter.

The Dunloy ace scored two of the first four points and was involved in the move for the other two scored by Christine Laverty and Róisín McCormack before Ciara Quirke eventually got Carlow off the mark with a point in the 10th minute.

Orlagh O’Hara celebrates after scoring the second of her two goals

Straight from the poc out however Nicole O’Neill found Orlagh O’Hara and her neat lay-off saw Róisín McCormack cut in and force the sliotar over the line.

Although Catherine Kavanagh responded with a fine point for Carlow, Antrim responded again from the poc out and Maeve Kelly’s delicately floated pass found Orlagh O’Hara between full-back and ‘keeper and the Cushendall full-forward neatly tucked it away for a 2-4 to 0-2 lead at the water-break.

That break did not disrupt the momentum Antrim had built up and they hit the next 1-3 with O’Hara again the goal-scorer, this time O’Neill supplying the pass.

So it was looking comfortable going into half time only for Carlow to suddenly find their feet and Eibhe Lawler’s point was quickly followed by a good individual goal from Ciara Quirke after a pass from Rachel Sawyer.

Eibhe Lawler started the second half with a point inside 15 seconds to close the gap further to 3-7 to 2-4. However at the other end Christine Laverty was taken down for a penalty and Roisín McCormack did the rest.

In the 38th minute a long delivery from Emma Coady found Catherine Kavanagh and she fired home a second Carlow goal.

However the Loughgiel trio of Christine and Ciara Laverty and Caitrin Dobbin posted three excellent points in reply and, entering the last quarter, the Saffrons looked home and dry.

Antrim’s Caitrin Dobbin

A goal from Ciara Quirke in the 52nd minute however reduced the gap to six points. Maeve Kelly then burst the tackle at the other end and ran in to find the net. That score was needed with points from free-taker Eleanor Treacy and Even Sinnott followed by Kavanagh’s second goal. However there was no time for any more and Antrim’s campaign was up and running with a victory.

Chloe Drain, Niamh Donnelly and Amy Boyle swept up a lot of ball in both halves with Maeve Connolly dominant before half-time.

Emma Laverty put in a good shift at midfield and Nicole O’Neill was effective both at centre-forward and then as a midfielder dropping deep against the breeze. All the forwards scored, but there probably is a lot more scores in them and getting this game under their collective belts will help as they move forward in the competition.  

Antrim’s Chloe Drain comes out of defence with the ball

Antrim : Eimear Boyle, Clare McKillop, Kathryn Donnelly, Chloe Drain, Niamh Donnelly, Maeve Connolly capt., Amy Boyle, Emma Laverty, Ciara Laverty (0-1), Maeve Kelly (1-1), Nicole O’Neill (0-2), Christine Laverty (0-2), Roisin McCormack (2-2, 1-0 pen., 0-1 free), Orlagh O’Hara (2-0), Caitrin Dobbin (0-2).

Subs : Niamh Anne Donnelly for K Donnelly (48), Ciara Dobbin for C Laverty (48), Áine Donnelly for O O’Hara (56).

Carlow :  Hannah Rapley, Tara Wilson, Niamh Quirke, Shannon Kavanagh, Emma Cody, Kate Nolan capt., Mairead O’Shea, Eleanor Treacy (0-3 frees), Eve Sinnott (0-1), Anna Breen, Ciara Quirke (2-1), Ali Cushen, Rachel Sawyer, Eibhe Lawler (0-3), Catherine Kavanagh (2-1)

Sub : Keeva Collins for A Cushen (41)

Referee : EP Cassidy (Derry)

Antrim County Camogie Chairman Vincent Boyle (centre) with team captain Maeve Connolly (2nd right) and team member Katie McKillop, plus joint manager Jim ‘Jingo’ McKernan (left) and Paul ‘Humpy McKillen (right) as the girls hand over new water bottles and sliothars presented to the team by TeamKit Ballymena for this year’s Intermediate Championship campaign. They are seen here before Saturday’s opening match against Carlow at Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan.

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