Antrim Ladies off to a flyer

Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 4

Derry v Antrim at Celtic Park

Referee Philip Conway

Derry 3-4 Antrim 5-10

Antrim Ladies made a great start to their National Football League campaign when they travelled to Celtic Park, Derry and beat the home side by 5-10 to 3-4 on Sunday.

Antrim got away to a great start with points from Aoife Taggart, Meabh McCurdy and Caitlin Taggart in the opening minutes of the game, and they were in the driving seat when Aoife Taggart fired the ball to the Derry net in the 6th minute, the goal coming after a good  passage of play from Niamh Enright who put Taggart clear and she palmed the ball past the approaching Derry Keeper Cheree Mackey.

The home team got off the mark in the seventh minute with a point from Steelstown player Orla McGeough, but within seconds Antrim hit back at the other end with a major after Enright sent in another quality pass, this time into the hands of McCurdy.

Derry begin to claw back at Antrim’s lead courtesy of Ciara McGurk on ten minutes and the Saffrons received another set-back soon afterwards when Antrim captain Aisling McFarlane was sin binned for team minutes following a tackle on ?. Suddenly things were looking a little different but the 14 players dug deep and they were lifted when Caitlin McTaggart swung over a fine point on fifteen minutes.

Another set-back for the Saffrons came at the first half water-break when they had to replace the injured Saoirse Tennyson who had been  involved in a collision, her St Paul’s club mate Lucy Wallace coming on in her place.

On the restart Derry closed the gap with points from Orla McGeough (from a free just outside the 20m line) on sixteen minutes and another successful effort from Katie Holly soon afterwards, scores which brought the Oak Leaf girls’ total to four points.

Antrim re-established their control when centre half back Cathy Carey stretched their lead to 2.05 to 0.04, but Derry’s came back when McGeough teamed up well with her Steelstown colleagues Ktie Holly and Ciara McGurk to fire home her team’s opening goal, but just before the short-whistle Aine Tubridy sent a higl ball into the Derry area where Emma Ferran collected and slotted home to give the visitors a 3.05 Derry to 1.04 half-time lead.

Shelter from the storm. Antrim shelter in the Celtic Park stand during the half time break

Things looked comfortable for Antrim when Aoife Taggart stretched their lead to eight points when she sent one between the Derry posts early in the second half but when Derry’s Ciara McGurk grabbed another Derry goal on 36mins the gap was back to just five points. To their credit the Antrim girls responded to the threat and two minutes later they were back in charge when Cathy Carey grabbed her team’s fourth goal.

A torrential downpour, which left the pitch greasy underfoot saw possession given away from both sides, but after a scoreless spell Antrim got back on target on 47 minutes when McCurdy, Carey (free) and substitute Ellen Morgan all slotted over.

A Derry player is meat in the Antrim sandwich as the Saffrons and Oak Leaf girls battle it out in Celtic Park. Pic by Elaine Kelly

Derry’s experienced player Ciara Moore gave her team late hope in the 56th minute when she found the Antrim net, but it was to be the Oak Leaf’s last score and following a great pass from Aoibhean Enright Teresa Mellon fisted in her team’s fifth goal to seal a great opening day win.

Subs used: Antrim

Lucy Wallace for Saoirse Tennyson 16mins

Bronagh Devlin for Caitlin Taggart 38mins

Niamh Webb for Rebekah Hemsworth 38mins

Rebecca Bradley for Danielle Connolly 42 mins

Ellen Morgan for Emma Ferran 42 mins

Teresa Mellon for Niamh Enright 45mins

Aoibhean Enright for Lucy Wallace 53 mins

Natasha O’Neill for Aoife Taggart 58mins

Derry

Dervla McNicholl for Ciara Moore 42mins

Bridget McMullan for Breena O’Loughlin 42mins

Scorers Antrim

Cathy Carey 1.03

Aoife Taggart 1.02

Caitlin Taggart 1.01

Meabh McCurdy 1-02

Emma Ferran 1.0

Ellen Morgan 0.02

Teresa Mellon 1.00

Derry:

Orla McGeough 1.02

Ciara McGurk 1.01

Katie Holly 0.01

Ciara Moore 1.00

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