Very Camogie League
Antrim: 5-14 (29) Down: 0-14 (14)
Antrim Camogs staged a remarkable comeback at Kelly Park in Portglenone on Saturday when they came from five points down in the 28th minute to overwhelm Down and get their National League campaign off to a great start.
The visitors had dominated the opening half and with Niamh Mallon and Sarah Louis Graffin creating no end of problems for the girls in Saffron they were six clear by the 23rd minute, and had it not been for an early goal from Caitrin Dobbin things would have been much worse. However the last ten minutes of the opening half saw Antrim gain a foothold and when Dobbin struck her second goal in first half injury time to reduce the gap to a single point there was a definite momentum swing.
With the breeze at their backs in the second half the home team took control and with Rosin McCormick moved out from corner forward to around the middle of the field, and with Fionnuala Kelly and Mark McKillen introduce up front the totally dominated play and went on to win by five clear goals.
Niamh Mallon had Down ahead through a pointed free inside the opening minute but when Caitrin Dobbin found the Down net four minute later it looked like they were in a good position. However Down started to control the game and with Mallon in devastating form on the 40, she struck the next four points, two from frees and two from play. Roisin McCormick pulled a point back from a free but Down pushed on and hit the next five points without reply, three of them from Mallon and two from Sarah Louise Graffin, four of the five scores coming from play.
Antrim were in trouble but they steadied the ship and two excellent points, the first from Katie McKillop and the second a massive effort from distance from Niamh Cosgrove lifted spirits a bit. Down came back again though with a pointed free from Mallon and they should have had a few more had it not been for some wayward shooting and a brilliant smothering save b Catriona Graham in the Antrim goal.
Still the visitors appeared to be in a strong position, holding a five point advantage entering injury time, but they game took a significant turn when Roisin McCormick sent over a point and Caitrin Dobbin grabbed her second goal to send the teams to the changing room at the break with just a point separating them.
With team manager Elaine Dowds making a couple of astute changes at the break, Caoimhe Conlon moving into full back and Fionnuala Kelly coming on for the unwell Aine Magill, everything seemed to click. Dobbin brought her team level within a minute before Cassie McArthur put them ahead with two well taken points from play. McCormick sent over a free before firing in a goal from a penalty which rattled the underside of the crossbar on its way to the net.
Down pulled one back through Nicola Mallon but Antrim still held the upper hand and the deadly due of Dobbin and McCormick kept the scoreboard ticking over. The gap was out to seven with ten minutes left to play, when the floodgates opened. It started when a long range free from Niamh Cosgrove deceived the Down defence and ended in the net, and following point from McCormick, Siobhan McKillop, and Dobbin, Fionnuala Kelly wrapped I all up when she marked her senior debut with her team’s fifth goal.
Catriona Graham, Colleen Patterson, Eilish Kearns, Maria Lynn, Amy Boyle, Caoimhe Conlon, Niamh Cosgrove, Shanon Graham, Lucia McNaughton, Katie McKillop, Siobhan McKillop, Aine Magill, Roisin McCormick, Katie McArthur, Caitrin Dobbin.
Subs – Fionnula Kelly for Kearns; Mary McKillen for Magill; Megan McGarry for Colleen Patterson.
Maria McNally, Aimee Mallon, Beth Fitzpatrick, Rhea Smyth, Blanaid Savage, Derbhla Magee, Allanah Savage, Claire McGillagan, Olivia Boyle, Sarah-Louise Graffin, Niamh Mallon, Deirghle Savage, Ciara Fitzimons, Aimee McAleenan, Lauren Clarke.
saoirse sands for Alannah Savage; Colleen McConnell for Aimee McAleenan; Aoife McDowell for Olivia Boyle