TG4 All-Ireland Junior Ladies Football semi-final
Antrim 1-05-3-15 Louth
From Kevin Herron at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones
Antrim’s hopes of reaching the TG4 All-Ireland junior football final were ended on Saturday afternoon as Louth shot the Saffrons down with a 3-15-1-05 win in the semi-final at Clones.
The wee County were in control of the contest and led 0-06-0-01 before Lara Dahunsi gave her side renewed hope with a goal before the break.
But an injury to inspirational captain Saoirse Tennyson early in the second-half was a major body-blow to Sean O’Kane’s side who only managed two second-half points in comparison to a dominant Louth side that hit 3-05 with a brace from Kate Flood and another from substitute Lauren Boyle.
The Saffrons preparations for the game were less than ideal as an injury to Mairead Cooper saw the St Pauls forward miss out and the scheduling of the Antrim club Championship meant that Sean O’Kane’s charges missed a week of training in the build-up to their biggest game of the season.
Louth were keen to avenge April’s semi-final League defeat at the same venue and opened the scoring through a converted Kate Flood free.
Cathy Carey levelled proceedings from the same scenario but the wee County were the more clinical of the sides in the opening exchanges.
Rebecca Carr restored her sides advantage with Louth’s second free of the afternoon and Kate Flood doubled her account with a fine point that curled over the bar.
A second converted free from Flood was followed by a double from Niamh Rice as Antrim trailed 0-06-0-01 with 19 minutes on the clock.
Despite the Saffrons best attempts in attack – they were unable to penetrate through a strong Louth defence and Aoife Russell was often on-hand to turn defence to attack.
With little over ten minutes until the break Antrim were gifted a lifeline. Louth keeper Una Pearson was slow to react to the loose ball on the edge of the 6-yard box and Lara Dahunsi scooped the ball up and lofted it high into the empty net to close the gap and make it 0-06-1-01.
Kate Flood replied with her third converted free of the half, though back to back points from Dahunsi and a Cathy Carey closed the deficit to the bare minimum.
Louth were to end the half strongly however and tagged on three unanswered points before the break.
Susan Byrne, Eimear Byrne and a second point from Rebecca Carr gave their side a 0-10-1-03 lead and but for an outstanding save from Anna McCann to deny Carr – things could have been worse for the Saffrons.
Any hopes of an Antrim fightback were dealt a hammer-blow early in the second-half as captain Saoirse Tennyson collapsed in agony with a knee injury – the stretcher was required and manager Sean O’Kane was forced into a reshuffle, introducing Caoimhe Stewart.
When play resumed again it was Cathy Carey who forged the opening score of the half through a converted free, however it would be 17 minutes before the Saffrons next white flag was raised and in-between Louth stretched their advantage.
Centre-half back Michelle McMahon popped the ball over in response to Carey’s free and Rebecca Carr conjured up her third point of the afternoon.
Louth then took a massive step towards victory with their opening goal of the game – it came through a familiar face in Kate Flood and gave the wee-County a 1-12-1-04 lead.
Aine Tubridy shot over the bar in response and it would prove to be the Saffrons final score of a disappointing afternoon.
They did have the chance to register a consolation goal after Lara Dahunsi was felled in the area, though Orla Corr was denied by Pearson in the Louth goal.
Kate Flood top-scored on the afternoon with 2-06 – at the end of her sides All-Ireland campaign Flood will travel Down Under to ply her trade for Australian Football outfit Fremantle Freo and on the basis of her performance Freo have signed an outstanding talent.
Flood confidently kicked two further placed balls and secured her sides third goal before the whistle – the other strike coming from Lauren Boyle, who was only fit to make an appearance from the bench but ended the game with 1-01 to her name.
At the end of a one-sided second period it was Louth who were able to celebrate reaching back to back junior finals and the Leinster champions will take on Fermanagh in the September 15th decider at Croke Park.
It was a disappointing end to what has been a promising campaign for Sean O’Kane’s charges who just missed out on promotion and clinched the Ulster Championship in the Tyrone natives first year in charge.
Antrim: A McCann, S Haughey, E Kelly, N Killen, M Hanna, C Brown, K Farren, S Tennyson, A McFarland, L Dahunsi (1-01), O Corr, N Enright, C Carey (0-03, 0-02f), E Magee, A Tubridy (0-01). Subs: C Stewart for S Tennyson (36 mins); M McGourty for N Enright (49 mins); C Taggart for K Farren (51 mins); A Taggart for O Corr (53 mins); N Webb for A McFarland (55 mins).
Louth: U Pearson, E Hand, S Quinn, S McLoughlin, C Nolan, M McMahon (0-01), A Breen, E Boyle (0-01), A Byrne, R Carr (0-03, 0-01f), S Byrne (0-01), A Russell, J McGuinness, K Flood (2-06, 0-05f), N Rice (0-02). Subs: D Osborne for A Russell (30 mins); L Boyle (1-01) for J McGuiness (38 mins); S Woods for A Byrne (43 mins); A Halligan for A Breen (54 mins); S Matthews for E Hand (54 mins).
Referee: Siobhan Coyle (Donegal)