Prenter’s late point earns Antrim a second bite at the cherry

TG4 All Ireland Junior Football Championship final

Antrim 1-13 Fermanagh 1-13

A last gasp point from an Orlaith Prenter free earned Antrim a second bite at the cherry against Ulster rivals Fermanagh in Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship Final at Croke Park.

After leading for most of the game Antrim fell behind entering the final minutes and it appeared their chance of a third All Ireland title at this grade had gone. However they were awarded a free in the last minute of the game and Prenter coolly slotted over her sixth point of the day to set up a replay in two weeks’ time at a venue to be decided.

Fermanagh started brightly andwere were ahead early one with points from Smyth and O’Brien, but one they got their first score through Aine Turbity they pushed on with two Prenter points and one from Grainne McLaughlin to lead by 0-4 to 0-2 by the twelfth minute.

However Fermanagh’s deadly duo of Bláithín Bogue (who ended with 0-7) and Eimear Smyth (who had 1-3 to her name) kept their team in touch and a Bogue point on 17 minutes cup the gap back to a single point midway through the first half, but a brilliantly taken goal by Antrim’s Maria O’Neill stretched the Saffrons lead to four.

Bogue kept her team very much in touch with three more points from play, but Antrim were able to respond when put under pressure and points from the elusive Orlaith Prenter and team captain Cathy Carey gave the Antrim girls a three point cushion at the half-time hooter. (1-7 to 0-7)

Lara Dahunsi who was awarded the Player of the Match trophy

It looked like Fermanagh were back on terms two minutes after the restart, but Bogue’s palmed finish from a high Smyth free was ruled out for a square ball after a lengthy consultation. The Saffrons were a players short by this staged aftr losing corner-back Niamh McIntosh to the sin-bin but to their credit her fellow defenders stepped up to the mark. Fermanagh were beginning to dominate territorially but Antrim were keeping them at bay with points from Cathy Carey, Orlaith Prenter and Maria O’Neill

Although they were under pressure they still maintained a cushion, and when Maria O’Neill was sent through on target by a brilliant Prenter pass it appeared the game clinching goal was on, but O’Neill’s rocket rocket-like shot cannoned back of the post and the danger was cleared.

Fermanagh were keeping the pressure on however and when they were awarded a penalty, (for a foul that appeared to be marginally outside the penalty area) Eimear Smith fired the ball home to cut the deficit to a single point.

Maria O’Neill crashes a shot off the woodwork during the second half

Fermanagh levelled matters with a point from Erin Tierney and when Smyth put them ahead for the first time since the third minute, with a great long range point, Antrim’s hearts’ sank

There was to be one more opportunity however when the Antrim were awarded a late free and the excellent Prenter kept her composure to slot it over and earn her team a second bite at the cherry in two weeks’ time.

Orlaith Prenter with her dad Brendan and mum Mary after the game. This was Orlaith’s first appearence in Croke Park but Brendan had played on the sacred sod when he guarded goals for Antrim hurlers over 30 years ago. Coincidentally his last appearance at headquarters was for Creggan hurlers in the 2014 All Ireland Club Junior Hurling final, which also ended in a draw, and his team won the replay

Scorers for Antrim: O Prenter 0-6 (0-4f), M O’Neill 1-1, G McLaughlin 0-3 (1f), C Carey 0-2, A Tubridy 0-1.

Scorers for Fermanagh: B Bogue 0-7, E Smyth 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), A O’Brien, S Britton, E Tierney 0-1 each.

Antrim: A McCann; D Coleman, A McFarland, N McIntosh; M Mulholland, S Tennyson, S O’Neill; L Dahunsi, Á Tubridy; C Taggart, C Carey, M O’Neill; B Devlin, O Prenter, G McLaughlin.

Subs: O Corr for C Taggart (33), T Mellon for Devlin (34), A Taggart for McLaughlin (40).

Fermanagh: R Gleeson; E Keenan, M McGloin, S McQuade; N McManus, S McCarville, C Bogue; B Bannon, A O’Brien; E Maguire, B Bogue, S Britton; C McElroy, E Smyth, L Grew.

Subs: E Tierney for Maguire (19), E Douglas for McManus (41), Maguire for Grew (55).

Referee: Kevin Corcoran (Mayo).

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