Ladies National League Division 4
Antrim 1-11 Leitrim 5-7
The scene was set in the heart of West Belfast this afternoon as Antrim Ladies took on Leitrim in a must win game to progress in the league.
As play got under way, the breeze picked up slightly on the Falls Road but there was still a mugginess in the air which made for very warm playing conditions.
Regardless, the Saffrons got off to the brighter start. Some lovely linked up play through the back bone of the team lead to three early scores for the home side. The visitors quickly responded with two of their own before an ill-judged kickout fell into the hands of corner forward, Caitlin Taggart, who buried the first and last goal for the Saffrons.
After last week’s heavy defeat to Louth, this young Antrim side were determined to keep their league campaign alive and it certainly looked like it was headed that way in the first quarter.
With Cathy Carey and the Taggart twins keeping the score board ticking over, Antrim went into the first water break 1-4 to 2 points ahead.
On the restart, it was Antrim on the attack again with another point from Aoife Taggart, but the tide quickly changed when goal keeper, Anna McCann found herself one on one with Leitrim’s Bronagh O’Rourke. Unfortunately for Antrim, the keeper found herself gathering the ball from the back of the net.
Antrim’s defence had been solid until that moment but then things started to go downhill. With some wayward passing and fumbling hands, Antrim’s errors allowed Leitrim to pull themselves back Into the game.
Leitrim started off on the back foot, kicked some poor wides and couldn’t get to grips with Antrim’s overlapping runs and superb recycling of possession. But with just 5 minutes to go in the first half, Leitrim turned up the heat.
A Saffron error lead to another easy goal for the visitors which brought it to a two point game. And then out of nowhere, two excellently taken goals from Laura O’Dowd and Roisin O’Neill totally turned the game on it’s head. Half time score: 1-5 to 4-4.
The 2nd half started promising for the Antrim girls after a quick break from the throw in, a lovely outside of the boot pass from Cathy Carey found Aoife Taggart, who slotted it over. The promising restart was shortlived however, as a misjudged kick pass from the Antrim attack led to yet another Leitrim goal.
Antrim left themselves a mountain to climb and with loose passes and timely interceptions from the opposition, it looked like the game was up.
A few substitutions from the Saffron sideline brought a little life back into the team. Meabh McCurdy was introduced on the 35 min mark and slipped the ball over the bar with her first touch. Antrim started playing better football again and a few converted frees from Cathy Carey gave them hope.
After the second water break, Aine Tubridy, Orla Corr, Ciara Brown and the Captain, Aislinn McFarland continued to run the ball out of defence and drive the attack. With a few more scores from Cathy and Aislinn, it was just a little too late.
Perhaps if Antrim’s conversion rate had of been higher, the outcome may have been different.