Antrim edge out Fermanagh in excellent final

Ulster LGFA Championship Final

Antrim 2-13 Fermanagh 1-15

Antrim staged a strong second half comeback to edge out Fermanagh in an excellent Ulster championship final at Healey Park in Omagh on Saturday. The Lake-siders looked on their way to victory when they led by 1-10 to 0-6 at half time and indeed that lead could have been greater as Eimear Smith fired the ball to the net for what looked a second Fermanagh goal but the score was ruled out as the half time hooter had sounded seconds earlier.

Smith was a constant thorn in the sides of the Antrim defence, hitting 0-6 in the opening half and all of their five second half points but lacked the support she needed to get her side over the line as the Saffrons came out strongly to dominate the second period.

Cathy Carey and Laura Grew exchanged points in the opening minute in Omagh but four points from the excellent Eimear Smith and a point from Sarah Bitton had Fermanagh four in front with 13 minutes gone.

It was 14 minutes before Orlaith Prenter raised the Saffrons second white flag but Fermanagh replied with points from Smith and Blaithin Bouge to go six ahead after 18 minutes and at this stage they were dominating the contest.

A couple of Prenter points and another from Cathy Carey looked to have served notice that Antrim were on the road to recovery but Fermanagh came back strongly again and Blaitin Bogue fired to the Antrim net to restore their six point advantage with seven minutes remaining to the break.

Bogue and Smith added points for Fermanagh in the period leading up to half time and Orlaith Prenter replied with a point for the Saffrons who looked in trouble as the hooter sounded for half-time but would have been relieved that Eimear Smith’s late effort was ruled out.

Whatever was said in the Antrim dressing room during the break seemed to work as the Saffrons emerged unrecognisable from the side who had struggled throughout the first half and Bronagh Devlin and Aine Tubridy hit early points.

A goal from Aldergrove’s Caitlin Taggart in the 10th minute really lit the fuse however with Orlaith Prenter following immediately with a point and suddenly what had seemed an unassailable Fermanagh lead had been reeled into a single point and the momentum was now very much with Antrim.

Fermanagh, who had been so fluent during the opening 30 minutes were struggling to put a meaningful attack together but were handed a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty but Blaithin Bogue dragged her spot kick wide.

Eimear Smith finally opened their second half account with a point in the 18th minute but two minutes later they were back under the cosh when the excellent Orlaith Prenter got in for Antrim’s second goal to move her side a point ahead as the Antrim support roared they’re approval.

Points from Orlaith Prenter, Maria O’Neill, Cathy Carey and Prenter again looked to have sealed it for the Saffrons with five minutes remaining and mover them five in front and it looked done and dusted at this stage .

Fermanagh threw everything at their opponents down the home straight and the excellent Eimear Smith did everything in her power to resurrect the Fermanagh challenge as she added a further four points during the closing stages but it was Antrim who held out to take the title.

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