Posts by thesaffrongael

Photographer and GAA writer who has been covering hurling, football and camogie for almost forty years

Antrim hang on to promotion hopes by a thread

NFL Division 4 Antrim v Waterford

Kelly Park Portglenone (2pm Saturday)

In the strangest of seasons Antrim’s promotion hopes still hang on by a thread following their seven goal mauling in Aughrim last Saturday. As I travelled with a colleague to the Wicklow venue I was full of hope that Antrim would gain the win that would almost certainly win them promotion.

At 2-45 those hopes had been torn to shreds by a Wicklow team who had out thought, out fought and certainly out scored an Antrim team who looked very much off the pace and I was convinced on the long journey home that we would be reporting on Division 4 football again in 2021.

That might well still be the case but Wexford’s win away to Limerick has created a scenario that might still see Antrim arise like the phoenix from the ashes to gain an unlikely promotion spot.

Wishful thinking-maybe but let’s examine the possibilities no matter how unlikely they might seem.

Wexford entertain Wicklow at Wexford Park. Both sides are already on 8 points while Antrim sit on 7. A win for either would put them on 10 points and leave their opponents still on 8. Worst result here for Antrim would be a draw.

Limerick, who looked on their way to promotion going into their last game before the lock-down have lost to Antrim and again to Wexford last day out and travel to Markievicz Park to play Sligo needing at least a draw and possibly a win to still ensure promotion.

Sligo are one of four sides who could still finish on 8 points (Depending on results elsewhere) and should Antrim lose to Waterford then 8 points could conceivably be enough for a promotion place with head-to-head coming into the equation.

So let’s look at another scenario! Should Wicklow and Wexford draw and Sligo and Limerick draw and Antrim defeat Waterford we would have four teams finishing on 9 points. Antrim defeated both Limerick and Wexford, Wexford beat Limerick and Limerick defeated Wicklow so score difference could come into play.

In the event of Wicklow, Wexford and Limerick all finishing on 9 points, Antrim need to win by at least 23 points due to their inferior scoring difference. They’ll not overtake Wicklow but they need to at least match Wexford.

Wishful thinking! Perhaps but in the strangest of seasons anything is possible so this punter will be praying for a Wexford or Wicklow win and a draw or even better, a Sligo win at Markievicz Park.

Let the celebrations begin!

HOW THEY STAND AT PRESENT

Wicklow640216-699-54368
Wexford640210-638-50198
Limerick64029-574-74-28
Antrim63125-779-69-47
Sligo630310-726-7866
Carlow62226-657-66-46
Waterford62135-507-54-103
London60063-4714-55-410

 2020 Allianz Football League Division 4 Fixtures 

  • Sat 25.01.2020
    Carlow 0-11 Wicklow 0-9
    Waterford 0-10 Limerick 1-10
  • Sun 26.01.2020
    Antrim 3-10 Wexford 0-13
    London 0-11 Sligo 5-9
  • Sat 01.02.2020
    Wexford 2-10 Carlow 1-06
  • Sun 02.02.2020
    Limerick 0-8 London 0-7
    Sligo 0-15 Antrim 0-14
    Wickow 2-11 Waterford 1-6
  • Sat 08.02.2020
    Waterford 0-8 Wexford 2-3
  • Sun 09.02.2020
    Carlow 0-9 Limerick 1-7
    London 0-10 Antrim 0-14
    Wickow 1-15 Sligo 1-10
  • Sat 22.02.2020
    Sligo 0-16 Waterford 2-12
  • Sun 23.02.2020
    Wexford 4-15 London 1-9
    Limerick 5-10 Wicklow 1-14
    Antrim 0-11 Carlow 1-8
  • Sat 29.02.2020
    London 2-10 Wicklow 5-9
    Wexford 1-9 Sligo 2-7
  • Sun 01.03.2020
    Antrim 2-21 Limerick 1-12
    Waterford 2-14 Carlow 2-14
  • Sat 17.10.2020
    Wickow 7-11 Antrim 0-7
    Carlow 2-17 Sligo 2-15
  • Sun 18.10.2020
    Limerick 1-10 Wexford 1-13
    Waterford v London – OFF
  • Sat 24.10.2020
    Antrim v Waterford, Portglenone, 2pm
    Sligo v Limerick, Markievicz Park, 2pm
    Wexford v Wicklow, Wexford Park, 2pm
    London v Carlow – OFF

Antrim tops in high scoring semi-final

Ulster Under 16 Camogie Championship :

Antrim 6-9 Down 5-2

THERE were goals galore in this Ulster under 16 championship semi-final in Tír na nÓg, four in the opening quarter, another three before the break and then four in the third quarter.

However by the second water-break, Antrim had pulled clear of a strong challenge from Down and when the dust had eventually settled the Saffrons had eased into the final with ten points to spare.

Cathal McOscar Photography

The opening half in particular underlined the lack of match practice and sharpness in both squads with defences opened too easily and goals there for the taking. Of course it made for an entertaining game overall – pity the only people to see it were parents who drove the girls to the pitch.

It took Antrim eight minutes to get their first score, an excellent Niamh Graham point from the right wing to equalise Ciara Doran’s pointed 45 after three minutes.

After that we had goals. First of all Ellen Shields opened up the Antrim defence and found Eimear McCarthy who turned her marker and found the net.

Barely a minute later and Ellie McAteer’s long delivery from defence found Bróna Magill who crossed for Cerys O’Neill to level for the Saffrons.

On 13 minutes Ciara Fitzsimons burst through the middle and her clever hand-passed finish put Down ahead once more. Although Niamh Neeson turned and fired over an excellent point in response, McCarthy punished sloppy finishing with her second goal at the other end to leave it 3-1 to 1-2 at the water-break.

The water rejuvenated Antrim and in the five minutes after it, Antrim burst into action with goals from Síne Woodhouse and Bróna Magill and then points from Woodhouse and Neeson.

Down slowed the progress with another fine solo goal from Fitzsimons, but Evanne Martin’s point in injury time left Antrim leading by 3-5 to 4-1.

Fitzsimons again found the net on the re-start to put Down ahead, but the game was turned on its head over the next 12 minutes by half-time substitute Monique O’Boyle. The Cushendall forward mishit her first possession and it was smothered by Edel Stewart, but in the 38th minute another opportunity came her way and she kicked it over the line.

Cathal McOscar Photography

Two minutes late Síne Woodhouse’s shot was parried and O’Boyle swept it to the net and she completed her hat-trick in the 44th minute with Evanne Martin adding a point to put Antrim in command of the tie 6-6 to 5-1.

The home side tightened up at the back for the final quarter as Down pressed for scores to get back into contention. Antrim relied on quick counter attacks for scores of their own and Martin, Woodhouse and Neeson added to their totals while a point from Fitzsimons came too late to save the visitors.

There is no doubt that both teams improved as the game wore on. Antrim worked harder at stringing passes together in contrast to Down who were over reliant on the excellent Ciara Fitzsimons although an injury to centre-half back Ciara Doran and the consequent re-organisation did not help the visitors.

The Saffron defence was at sea for periods during the first half but was much better during the second half hour and the direct approach of Monique O’Boyle certainly added to their attack.

Cathal McOscar Photography

Antrim : Caitie Connolly, Emily McGurk, Bríd Magill, Ella McAteer, Sarah Fyfe, Lára Haughey, Faye McIntosh, Bróna Magill (1-0), Niamh Neeson (0-3), Síne Woodhouse (1-2), Evanne Martin (0-3), Aisling Donnelly, Roseanne Mulholland, Niamh Graham (0-1), Cerys O’Neill (1-0).

Subs : Broghan Crossan for E McGurk (17), Monique O’Boyle (3-0) for R Mulholland (HT), Elen McIntosh for A Donnelly (41).

Down : Edel Stewart, Caoimhe Sharkey, Claire Morgan, Úna Keenan, Tara O’Neill, Ciara Doran (0-1 free), Orla Dempster, Sophia McGrath, Lily McKee, Grace Sloan, Ellen Shields, Aoife Doyle, Eimear McCarthy (2-0), Ciara Fitzsimons (3-1), Niamh McGrath.

Subs : Niamh O’Reilly for G Sloan (15), Áine Breen for C Sharkey (21), Amy Morgan for N McGrath (32), Chloe Savage for A Doyle (42), Orlaith Sharkey for C Doran (50).

Referee : Michael Quigg (Derry).

Saffrons see off Kerry to secure Division One status

Allianz National Hurling League Division 2 final

Antrim 2-23 Kerry 2-20

Report by John Curly McIlwainePics by Brendan McTaggart

Antrim won the Division 2 Hurling League title, and with it a place in Division 1b next season, when they beat Kerry by 2-23 to 2-20 in Sunday’s final in Tullamore. The Saffrons appeared to be cruising when they lead by five points midway through the second half, but a bad mistake by goalkeeper Ryan Elliott let a long free from his own half by Kerry sharpshooter Shane Conway drop into the net and it was game-on once more. When Conway cut the gap to single point two minutes later it was squeaky bum time for the Saffron followers watching on GAAgo, but those nerves were settled a minute later when corner forward James McNaughton scored a brilliant goal at the other end. McNaughton and his fellow corner forward Conal ‘Coby’ Cunning were to share the man of the match accolades, Cunning absolutely brilliant in the opening half and McNaughton taking up the reigns in the second.

Antrim captain Conor McCann lifts the Division 2 League trophy after his team’s win over Kerry.

The Saffrons led by a point at half time, and were good value for it, their goal coming from team captain Conor McCann, after great work by substitute Dohmnal Nugent on 28 minutes. They started the second half strongly and pulled five clear but couldn’t push on as a dogged Kerry side battled hard. It was tough and uncompromising at times as they held off the Kerry challenge but McNaughton’s brilliant goal settled the nerves and they sealed the win with three to spare.

Antrim started well and Conal Cunning had them ahead in the second minute, but two points inside thirty seconds from dangerman Shane Conway had the kingdom in front by the fourth. Joe Maskey brought the Saffron level but two more from Conway, in reply to one from Niall McKenna kept the Kingdon ahead, but three great points in a row from Coby Cunning (2) and Niall McKenna put them two clear.

James McNaughton who was brilliant in the second half

A great point from play by Conway cut the gap the minimum again but on eighteen minute Paddy Burke broke forward from defence hit a superb point to restore the Saffron’s two point cushion. It stayed that way until the 25 minute mark when a high ball into the Antrim square was broken out to Kerry full forward Mickey Boyle who drilled a low shot to the net to give the Kingdom back the lead, but a few minutes later Antrim captain Conor McCann had the ball in the Kerry net after great work by substitute Dohmnal Nugent (on early in the game for the injured Neill McManus).

Michael Leane pulled one back for Kerry but two more the ever accurate Cunning, and another from McKenna, in reply to three more from Conway frees gave them the edge at the break, though it took a magnificent save by Antrim keeper Shane Elliott in first half injury time to see them hold that lead.

Conor McCann celebrates after scoring his team’s opening goal

When Antrim got the first three points of the new half through Michael Bradley, Niall McKenna and James McNaughton they appeared to be taking a grip on the game, and though Nolan pulled on back on 42 minutes, James McNaughton, who was growing into the game minute by minute, came back another top class score to give the Ulster men a four point cushion

It could have been even better as good work by the Antrim forwards saw Dohmnal Nugent through on goal, but his one handed shot under pressure was brilliantly saved by Mark Stackpool in the Kerry goal, though Coby Cunning did get a point from the free that the referee was playing advantage for.

Nial McKenna battles under the dropping ball as Eoghan Campbell awaits the outcome.

Kerry closed the gap to three again as Michael Leane and Conway added points but Conor McCann pushed the gap out to four again with a brilliant point from out on the right-hand sideline just before the second-half water break. James McNaughton put the Saffrons five clear with a massive free from distance just after the resumption and things were finally starting to look comfortable, but Antrim don’t do things the easy way and when Conway’s long free deceived Shane Elliott in the Antrim goal it was game on again.

To their credit they weathered the storm and when Eogan Campbell cut in from the wing and sent the ball across the Kerry goal, it ended up with McNaughton who fired brilliantly to the net. From here on there was a degree of comfort, though it was all hands to the pump, and substitute Doniel McCloskey earned his corn by earning two vital frees.

Big Dohmnal Nugent shows he can still hurl with one arm, just as he did in the coutny semi-final. There was no goals this time but the big man set up a goal for Conor McCann and put in a great shift after replacing the injured Neal McManus

ANTRIM

Ryan Elliott, Phelim Duffin, Matthew Donnelly, Stephen Rooney, Gerard Walsh, Paddy Burke, Joe Maskey, Eoghan Campbell, Keelan Molloy, Niall McKenna, Neil McManus, Michael Bradley, Conal Cunning, Conor McCann, James McNaughton

Subs –Domhnall Nugent for Neil McManus (4), Ciaran Clarke for Keelan Molloy (42), Aodhán O’Brien for Niall McKenna (55), Dan McCloskey for Michael Bradley (61), Ciaran Johnston for D Nugent (66). Blood sub: Eoin O’Neill for Ciaran Clarke (70+4, not reversed).

Scorers: Conal Cunning 0-10 (0-7f), James McNaughton 1-5 (0-2f), Conor McCann 1-1, Niall McKenna 0-3, Paddy Burke 0-1, Joe Maskey 0-1, Michael Bradley 0-1, Domhnall Nugent 0-1.

KERRY

Martin Stackpool, James O’Connor, Bryan Murphy, Tómas O’Connor, Conor O’Keefe, Jason Diggins, Fionnan Mackessy, Brendan O’Leary, Shane Nolan, Shane Conway, Michael O’Leary, Michael Leane, John Buckley, Mickey Boyle, Brandon Barrett.

Subs: Eric Leane for Conor O’Keefe (27), Colum Harty for John Buckley (52), Michael Slattery for Brendan O’Leary (59), Dan Goggin for Brandon Barrett (62).

Shane Conway 1-14 (1-9f, 0-2 65s), Mikey Boyle 1-1, Michael Leane 0-3, Michael O’Leary 0-1, Shane Nolan 0-1.