Ulster under 16 Camogie Cup Final
Derry 2-13 Antrim 3-11
ANTRIM ambushed Derry to overturn a 14 points’ defeat in their group game and lead from pillar to post in this Ulster under 16 Cup final in Swatragh.
The standard of play was very high throughout and made for an excellent game, but the damage was all done in the opening half.
The visitors scored the first four points before Carla Collins hit back with a point for Derry. But from the poc out, Shannagh Heggarty found Orlaith McAlister who took out two players with a clever hand-pass for Mary McArthur to find the net.
Derry fought back however and when Collins and Leah Cassidy combined for Natalie McKenna to goal in the 16th minute, it was back to a one-point game, 1-4 to 1-3.
A key moment in the game came with Antrim’s response. Kady McNeill ran on to a long ball over the Derry defence and smashed home a spectacular goal.
In the next Antrim attack, Mary McArthur chased a lost cause along the end-line and poked the sliotar across the face of the Derry goal. From the confusion that ensued, Kady McNeill rushed in to take possession and again find the roof of the net.
Although Derry hit back with scores from Ellie Griffin and Leah Cassidy, Antrim finished the half strongly with points from Tara McAfee, Shannagh Heggarty and a Kady McNeill free to lead 3-7 to 1-5 at the change of ends.
There was a breeze against Antrim for the second half and they opted to play goal-scorer McNeill as a sweeper.
Initially Derry were able to bye-pass her and halved the eight points’ deficit by the 41st minute with three points from Carla Collins and another from Orla McCartney who would go on to collect three points from play and really trouble the Antrim defence.
The tactic seemed to be drawing pressure on Antrim, but Orlaith McCurry relieved it with a fine point. At the other end Collins (free) and McCartney narrowed the gap to make it 3-8 to 1-11.
Antrim needed some breathing space and they got it with points from McCurry and Shannagh Heggarty with ten minutes left.
However the Antrim defence were under a huge amount of pressure and Eimear McGivern brought off a great save from a shot from Carla Collins while Kady McNeill cleared a lot of ball in her free role.
The Saffrons absorbed the pressure and McCurry replied to a point from a Carla Collins 45 as the game headed into added time.
Orla McCartney then fired over when a goal looked on. The Derry goal eventually came in the 62nd minute when a free-in wasn’t properly cleared and Collins blasted to the net from an acute angle.
However it came too late to save the Oak Leaf, despite a huge effort from Paige Bell, Jemma Shivers, Cait Conway and the two main scorers.
Antrim survived on the score-board as a result of Orlaith McCurry three second half points. However there were also sound performances all over the pitch particularly when under pressure during the same period.
Player of the Match went to Kady McNeill. Her two goals in the opening half put her side in control, but more important were her clearances when Derry applied the pressure during the last half hour.
It finished off a brilliant weekend for Antrim camogie with a third Ulster title inside 24 hours and an Intermediate final to look forward to next weekend.
It also added to the medal tally for Janey McIntosh and Abi McNeill who won Ulster minor medals at the start of April.
McNeill was also in the St Killian’s Garron Tower side that won the All-Ireland schools’ title in March and another half dozen from the Tower contributed to this success, including Player of the Match Kady McNeill who just happened to win the same accolade in the All-Ireland schools’ final.
Antrim: E McGivern, E Connolly, A McNeill, C Duffin, A Ferris, A O’Donnell, L Black, M Devlin, K McNeill 2-1, 0-1 free, T McAfee 0-2, S Heggarty 0-3, 1 free, O McCurry 0-3, J McIntosh 0-1, M McArthur 1-0, O McAlister 0-1.
Sub: C McCann for T McAfee (23)
Derry: N Okoronkwo, C Campbell, G Drain, E McCormack, J Shivers, P Bell, E McNally, G Kelly, C Conway, O McCartney 0-4, C Collins 1-6, 0-4 frees, E Murray, N McKenna 1-0, L Cassidy 0-2, E Griffin 0-1.
Subs: T Kelly for N Okoronkwo (21), A Mulholland for N McKenna (30), C Chambers for L Cassidy (37), A Kearney for E McNally (52).