AIB All-Ireland senior club semi-final
Loughgiel (Antrim) 3-6 Drom & Inch (Tipperary) 2-6
Pic by Bert Trowlen
LOUGHGIEL earned their place in next weekend’s All Ireland club final when they came from four points down at one stage early in the second half to beat Tipperary and Munster champions Drom & Inch on a snow covered pitch at Kinnegad on Saturday.
The game had been scheduled for Edenderry Co Offaly but was switched late on Friday to the Westmeath venue. However when they arrived at the venue on Saturday morning what the teams found was a snow covered pitch, and they must have been doubts about the fixture going ahead.
When the game did get going it was soon clear that Loughgiel were going to be competitive, for though the fell behind to three pointed frees by Eimear McGrath, they responded well and Annie Lynn and Caitrin Dobbin sent over at the other end to cut the gap to the minimum.
Drom & Inch went ahead on 18 minutes when a high delivery from Joanne Ryan came back off the crossbar and corner forward Miriam Campion was on hand to poke the ball over the line for the opening goal of the game
Four minutes later things began to look bleak for the Ulster champions when the Tipperary girls grabbed a second opportunist goal in the 22nd minute when Ryan’s high ball into the Loughgiel goalmouth fell loose and was scrambled home again by Eimear McGrath.
However Loughgiel knew that the scoreline was deceptive as they were giving as good as they got and when Lucia McNaughton found Caitrin Dobbin in behind the Drom & Inch defence the corner forward showed her predatory instinct to fire home and at the break there was only two between the sides.
The second half, with conditions worsening, Loughgiel dug deep as each and every player on the team battled for every ball as if their lives depended on it. A heroic defence kept the Munster champions scoreless for the first 22 minutes of the second half and at the other end they had a lucky break when a mishit shot by Roisin McCormick deceived the Drom & Inche goalkeeper and dropped just over the line. To put them ahead. Not long after that Annie Lynn grabbed the Shamrocks’ second goal and when substitute Chloe Higgins put them four clear with her first touch of the ball there was a bit of breathing space. However Eimear McGrath closed the gap to three again and there were a few anxious moments for the travelling Loughgiel fans to endure before the celebrations began.
The win sets up an All Ireland final meeting with reigning champions Sarsfields of Galway in Croke Park next Saturday.
Loughgiel: E Boyle; C Campbell, K Lynn, C McKillop; M Lynn, Ú McNaughton, S Doran; A Boyle, L McNaughton, C Laverty, M McKillen, A Connolly; C Dobbin (1-2, 0-1 free), R McCormick (1-1), A Lynn (1-2).
Subs: K McKillop for A Connolly (42), C Boyle for S Doran (58), C Higgins (0-1) for M McKillen (59), O Laverty for C Laverty (60 + 1)
Drom-Inch: C Bourke; Á Greed, C Brennan, M Ryan; E Cahill, M Eviston capt, A McGrath; N Long, M Burke; E McGrath (1-6, 0-5 frees), Á Eviston, J Ryan; N Ryan, N Treacy, M Campion (1-0).
Subs: K O’Dwyer for J Ryan (42), S McGrath for N Long (51).