Antrim triumph in winners take all clash

TG4 All-Ireland Junior Football Championship – Group B

Antrim 2-11-1-07 Derry

Kevin Herron reports from Augher

Antrim came out on top against Derry in this afternoon’s All-Ireland Junior group game to claim a place in the semi-final after a 2-11-1-07 win over the Oak-Leaf girls .

The sides travelled to Augher, County Tyrone for a glorified quarter-final meeting with Antrim only needing a draw to confirm their place in the last four.

They didn’t make the ideal start however and found themselves a goal behind inside of 45-seconds.

Aine McAllister steered her quickly taken free into the path of Ella-Rose Sainsbury who laid the ball off to Orla McGeough, the corner-forward’s high shot was spilled by Anna McCann- with the sun perhaps making things difficult for the Antrim keeper and Ciara McGurk swooped to send the loose ball to the net.

Derry added the game’s first point a few minutes later through goal-scorer McGurk and Antrim eventually replied by the 8th minute as Cathy Carey found Meabh McCurdy from a free and McCurdy popped the ball inside to Aoife Taggart for a point.

Emma Doherty converted a free at the other end but Taggart did likewise after McCurdy had her dangerous run halted.

Taggart was in sensational form for the Saffrons and notched up her third point before the midway point in the half after some neat work from Niamh Enright, Taggart won the ball in a wide position and got her angles right to reduce the deficit to two-points (1-02-0-03).

After the water-break in the opening half gave both sides a minute to refuel it was Antrim who returned with the bit-between their teeth and they found the net.

Antrim full forward Meabh McCurdy who scored her team’s opening goal

Meabh McCurdy was an injury doubt heading into today’s game but the St Galls forward showed no signs of the niggle was troubling her as Aine Tubridy fired a high ball into the wide position and McCurdy collected and powered her way towards the target with one thing on her mind- a goal which dually followed to give her side a 1-03-1-02 lead.

The Oak-Leaf girls were back on terms through centre-half back Katy Holly but Aoife Taggart registered her second free of proceedings and Cathy Carey conjured up her first of the afternoon.

Emma Doherty narrowed the margins with her second converted free of the half before the break- though Antrim would lead by two as Grainne McLoughlin took a lay-off from Carey and angled it over to give her side a 1-06-1-04 advantage at the interval.

Antrim started the second period on the front-foot with Aine Tubridy combining with Carey for a lovely score and McCurdy seeing her shot deflected over the bar by Grace Conway to double their half-time lead.

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Antrim’s Aine Turbidy in action against Derry

Emma Doherty led the Derry revival with her third free of the contest and substitute Ciara Moore then got in on the act after linking-up with Ciara McGurk.

The Oak-Leafer’s were gaining momentum and Doherty added to her free tally to reduce arrears to the bare minimum by the 43rd minute.

Antrim were in need of a response to steady the ship with Carey converting a free to do just that.

Midway through the second-half the decisive moment arrived as the Saffrons claimed their second goal.

There was certainly an element of luck about it as Cathy Carey shaped up for a high shot that looked to be heading over the bar before it dropped and Kathryn Connery spilled it to the net as Antrim led 2-09-1-07.

Cathy Carey who grabbed Antrim’s second goal

Points followed in the aftermath from Danielle Connolly and substitute Fionnghuala Rocks before the next water-break.

There were no further scores in the contest but Derry were unfortunate not to come back into proceedings when Emma Doherty floated in a free that was fisted against the crossbar by Rhianna Curran, Curran got to the  loose ball and shot against the post before Orla Corr collected and cleared the immediate danger.

Katy Holly then dropped in a high ball which McCann was more than equal to and Antrim saw proceedings out to advance to a semi-final meeting with Wicklow in two-week’s time.

Antrim midfielder Ciara Brown breaks through a Derry tackle

Antrim: A McCann, N McIntosh, O Corr, N Webb, N Enright, S Tennyson, D Connolly (0-01), C Brown, A Tubridy, G McLoughlin (0-01), C Carey (1-03, 0-01f), A Taggart (0-04, 0-02f), E Morgan, M McCurdy (1-01), A McFarlane. Subs: B Devlin for E Morgan (41), L Dahunsi for A Tubridy (41), F Rocks (0-01) for D Connolly (45), K McConville for M McCurdy (45), N Jones for A Taggart (48).

Derry: K Connery, O McCloskey, G Conway, N Gilmore, N Browne, A Frizzell, K Holly (0-01), R McAllister, E Doherty (0-04f), A McAllister, E McCloskey, C McGurk (1-01), ER Sainsbury, A McGonigle, O McGeough. Subs: C Moore (0-01) for A McGonigle (37), B McMullan for E McCloskey (41), R Curran for N Browne (55), H Mullan for N Gilmore (60).

Referee: Siobhan Coyle (Donegal)

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