Gutsy Saffrons come up short

TG4 All-Ireland Junior Ladies Championship – Group B

Antrim 1-05-2-08 Limerick

Kevin Herron reports from Clane, County Kildare

Goals in each half from Cathy Mee and Amy Ryan ensured that Limerick would take top spot in Group B of the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship as Antrim were defeated 2-08-1-05 in Clane this afternoon.

The Saffrons travelled to Kildare for their first outing in seven months hoping for a solid performance from which they could build-on in the coming weeks.

Antrim goalkeeper Anna McCann

Antrim had goalkeeper Anna McCann to thank early-on as the St Ergnat’s shot stopper prevented Andrea O’Sullivan from netting inside of 60-seconds and Niamh Webb reacted quickly to block Leah Coughlan from turning home the loose ball.

Cathy Mee skewed a couple of early free opportunities for her side before Coughlan was on hand to grab the opening point of the game.

Limerick would extend their lead on the eighth minute, Cathy Mee stood over a free and her effort dropped underneath the crossbar and into the net to give her side a 1-01-0-00 advantage.

Antrim got off the mark with a point from Caitlin Taggart after a flowing attacking move and a slipped pass from Niamh Enright.

They were beginning to grow into proceedings and by the midway point in the half had drawn level.

Aine Tubridy tried her luck with a shot that was gathered by Sophie Hennessey in the Limerick goal, but Hennessey would cost her side moments later as she tried to pick out Meadhbh McNamara with a fist-pass, McNamara was unaware of her goalkeepers intentions and Meabh McCurdy swooped on the loose ball and found the net on her return from knee ligament damage.

The sides traded scores in the aftermath of the water-break through frees from Mee and Aoife Taggart but Limerick would edge ahead before the interval and a first point from play by Cathy Mee was followed by a score from Roisin Ambrose to give their side a 1-04-1-02 lead at half-time.

Antrim’s Caitlin Taggart

Limerick were quick off the mark after the break as Andrea O’Sullivan steered the ball between the posts.

The Shannon-siders struck their second goal of the game three minutes after the restart- Caroline Hickey popped the ball inside to Leah Coughlan initial shot was blocked by Ciara Brown, the loose ball was shot goal-wards by Coughlan with Anna McCann at full-stretch to keep it out, but Amy Ryan was unmarked and finished to the net to give Limerick a 2-05-1-02 lead.

Ryan followed up on her goal with a point minutes later and Antrim needed a quick response, they did reply through an outstanding score from Grainne McLoughlin but failed to kick-on in the aftermath.

Cathy Mee converted her third free of the afternoon with Aoife Taggart claiming her second point from the same situation in response.

Grainne McLoughlin was inches away from grabbing a goal that would have greatly resurrected her sides hopes but Sophie Hennessey pulled off a fantastic save to turn it around the post and behind.

McLoughlin would conjure up her second point to leave five-points between the sides (2-07-1-05) with time still on Antrim’s side.

But the Saffrons failed to make any further inroads and Cathy Mee would convert a further free before the afternoon was out to ensure that Limerick ran out 2-08-1-05 winners to claim top spot in the group and a place in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Antrim will hope to bounce back when they face Derry next Sunday in Augher in a winners take all clash for the second vacant semi-final spot.

Antrim: A McCann, N McIntosh, C Brown, N Webb, N Enright, S Tennyson, D Connolly, A McFarlane, A Tubridy, G McLoughlin (0-02), C Carey, C Taggart (0-01), A Taggart (0-02f), M McCurdy (1-00), O Corr. Subs: G Shannon for A McFarlane (36), N Jones for O Corr (48), C Stewart for D Connolly (51), E Morgan for C Taggart (51), F Rocks for M McCurdy (58).

Limerick: S Hennessey, C Walsh, M McCarthy, R Daly, M McNamara, N McCarthy, R O’Malley, C Hickey, R Ambrose (0-01), A Cunningham, C Mee (1-04, 1-03f), K Heelan, A O’Sullivan (0-01), A Ryan (1-01), L Coughlan (0-01). Subs: R O’Dell for M McNamara (53), S Sheehan for K Heelan (55).

Referee: Austin O’Connell (Galway)

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