Shamrocks seal 8-in-a-row but they had to work hard for the win

Antrim Senior Camogie Championship Final

Loughgiel 3-12 Dunloy 1-9

Paul McIntyre reports from Quinn Park, Ballymena

Loughgiel Shamrocks were crowned Antrim camogie champions for a record breaking eight successive year after seeing off a brave second half come back from Dunloy.

A first glance at the scoreline would suggest that Loughgiel had a comfortable afternoon, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Underdogs Dunloy recovered from a slow start and mounted a strong second half challenge and it took a 62nd minute goal from Loughgiel’s Racquel Murphy to confirm the Shamrocks as Antrim’s best for another year.

It was no more than PJ O’Mullan’s side deserved. For long periods the Shamrocks were in total control with most of the damage being done in the first half.

Leading by seven at the break, the champions kept their opponents scoreless for the first 24 minutes of the contest with their bigger matchday experience helping them settle the quicker.

Dunloy made a fist of it in the second half but couldn’t turn possession into scores and they will look back on a missed penalty late in the game as their big chance to get back into the game.

With five minutes to go and the game very much in the melting pot, Aileen McManus was caught high by Charlene Campbell, however Loughgiel keeper Megan Coyle turned Nicole O’Neill’s effort round the post and away for a 45.

A Dunloy goal would’ve cut the gap to just two points, but Loughgiel survived and finished strongly to set up another Ulster final showdown with old adversaries Slaughtneil.

Loughgiel wasted no time in settling in to the contest and were two points to the good after just four minutes through points from Caitrin Dobbin from play and a Roisin McCormick 45.

 McCormick was soon in the thick of the action a minute later.

Loughgiel’s Roisin McCormick in action against Dunloy’s Caoimhe Conlon during Sunday’s Antrim Senior Camogie final in Ballymena. Pic by Sean Paul McKillop

After taking a pass from Dobbin, the corner forward was baring down on goal and when she just about to pull the trigger she was met with a robust challenge from the Dunloy netminder .

Referee Paul O’Neill had no option but to award a penalty and after discussing the incident with his umpires, he showed Martin a yellow card.

After a lengthy delay of almost six minutes, McCormick was helped off the field to be replaced by Anna Connolly, and when play resumed Murphy drove the ball to the corner of the Dunloy net.

Murphy almost claimed a second goal but her shot was tipped over the bar by Martin and further scores arrived from an Emma McMullan free and one from play from Annie Lynn.

Dunloy eventually settled and Nicole O’Neill’s effort after 24 minutes finally gave their support something to cheer about before Caoimhe Molly’s registered their first score from play on 27 minutes.

Lynn and Dobbin continued to wreak havoc in the Dunloy backline before Emma McMullan also chipped in with a point from play as Loughgiel threatened to run away with the contest and at half time they lead 1-8 to 0-4.

Aine Magill pointed straight from the restart as Dunloy refused to go down without a fight but Loughgiel’s grip on the contest tightened on 43 minutes with the games second goal.

Murphy turned provider this time. After picking up a sideline ball she headed straight for goal before offloading to full forward Dobbin whose low shot found a way past Martin.

It opened up a nine point gap but Dunloy were thrown a lifeline with eight minutes remaining.

Michaela Elliott’s long ball into the Loughgiel goalmouth wasn’t dealt with by keeper Coyle, and Magill swooped in to knock the loose ball into the net.

O’Neill then added a further Dunloy point and all of a sudden, the momentum was with the Cúchcllains.

Then came Coyles save from O’Neill’s penalty, and despite converting the following 45, that save only served to ignite a strong finish from Loughgiel and an unanswered 1-2 wrapped up another championship success with nine points to spare.

Teams & Scorers:

Loughgiel: Megan Coyle, Charlene Campbell, Katie Lynn, Maria Lynn, Amy Boyle (0-1), Maeve Connolly, Shauna Devlin, Emma McFadden, Christine Laverty (0-1), Emma McMullan (0-2 1f), Lucia McNaughton, Racquel Murphy (2-2 1-0 pen), Roisin McCormick (0-1 45), Caitrin Dobbin (1-3), Annie Lynn (0-1).

Replacements: Anna Connolly (0-1) for McCormick (10).

Dunloy: Mary Martin, Eimear McMullan, Eilis Kearns, Brid Magill, Katie Laverty, Katie Molloy (0-1), Dearbhaill Elliott, Aileen McManus, Caoimhe Conlon, Nicole O’Neill (0-4 3f 1 45), Caoimhe Molly (0-1), Erin Elliott, Caitlin Crawford, Cassie McArthur, Aine Magill (1-3).

Replacements: Michaela Elliott for Crawford (32) Eimear Johnston for D Elliott (42), Bronach Magill for McArthur (47),

Referee: Mr Paul O’Neill.

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