Antrim’s dreams dashed by slick moving Wicklow

TG4 LGFA All Ireland Junior Football Final

Wicklow 2-17 Antrim 1-09

Antrim’s dream of winning back the All Ireland Junior Football title were dashed at Croke Park on Sunday by a slick moving Wicklow side who played some great football on their way to a an eleven point win.

Wicklow full forward Meadhbh Deeney scored the crucial second goal to shake off Antrim’s comeback as Wicklow made amends for last year’s final defeat to claim the West County Hotel Cup with victory in the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship Final.

Antrim struggled to get to the pace of the game in the opening half and Wicklow were already well on the way by half-time when they took a 0-10 to 0-3 lead into the break. If the Saffrons were to get back into the game they needed a good start to the second half but after the restart Clodagh Fox scored the first goal for the girls from the Garden County and it was all uphill from then on for the Saffrons.

Wicklow took the lead in the fourth minute when Deeney scored, and the Leinster outfit continued to pile on the pressure. Deeney doubled her tally and Catherine Dempsey got in on the act when Wicklow could have had a goal.

Top-scorer Marie Kealy scored her first point from a free in the tenth minute, and after an heroic block by Wicklow captain Sarah Jane Winders down the other end, Kealy tapped over another.

Antrim looked in real trouble as they trailed by 0-06 to 0-00 after 11 minutes but they got their first point moments later when McLaughlin fired over from the ground.

Wicklow held that five-point advantage up to the first water break and Dempsey extended it with her second score.

Antrim started to provide more of a threat up front and their attack was spear-headed by McLaughlin. She scored a couple of points either side of another Fox effort.

Fox and Kealy combined to bring Wicklow’s tally into double-digits and the deserved to be seven points clear at the interval.

Antrim needed to start fast in the second half but instead Wicklow found the net through Fox in the 31st minute. She got through Áine Tubridy’s tackle and finished high past Anna McCann in the Antrim goal.

Moments later Maeve Blaney stopped Deeney’s goal-bound effort on the line but Wicklow continued to drive forward, and when Laurie Ahern scored in the 43rd minute all six of the starting Wicklow forwards had contributed to the scoreboard.

Grainne McLaughlin celebrates after scoring Antrim’s goal

They were 1-15 to 0-05 ahead at the second water break but Antrim kept on battling and their fans were rewarded when Grainne McLaughlin broke through to score a stunning goal in the 52nd minute when she rocketed a shot low to Linda Dempsey’s bottom left corner.

The Saffron (and Pink) clad followers finally had something to celebrate but the ‘buzz’ did not last long as one minute later Deeney put the game beyond doubt when she scrambled the ball over the line at the other end.

Scorers – Wicklow: M Deeney 1-04, C Fox 1-03, C Dempsey 0-04, M Kealy 0-03 (1f), R McGettigan 0-01, L Ahern 0-01, S McGettigan 0-01.

Antrim: G McLaughlin 1-05 (0-01 pen), C Carey 0-03 (0-03f), C Brown 0-01.

Wicklow: L Dempsey; M Healy, SJ Winders, L Dunne; L Fusciardi, A Conroy, A Gillen; N McGettigan, S Delahunt; R McGettigan, M Kealy, L Ahern; C Fox, C Dempsey, M Deeney. Subs: S McGettigan for R McGettigan (37), K Hennessy for Gillen (42), E Parke for Kealy (54), P Faulkner for Dunne (58), A Burke for Ahern (58).

Antrim: A McCann; N McIntosh, A McFarland, D Coleman; M Blaney, M Hanna, Á Tubridy; C Brown, E Ferran; G McLaughlin, C Carey, N Enright; C Taggart, M Magee, A Taggart. Subs: O Corr for Hanna (36), T Mellon for A Taggart (36), E Morgan for C Taggart (45), M O’Neill for Enright (53), N Webb for Coleman (58).

Referee: Barry Redmond (Wexford).

Members of the Antrim team who have been promoting the Donate for Daithi campaign in the lead up to the final got to meet the man himself when he was allowed onto Croke Park at the end of the game

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