Posts by thesaffrongael

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

Prenter steers Antrim to opening win over Fermanagh

Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 4, Group A 

Antrim 1-13 Fermanagh 1-6

A virtuosi performance from Orlaith Prenter steered Antrim Ladies to their first win of the season when they beat familiar foes Fermanagh in Sunday’s LGFA Division 4A opener at Davitt Park.

The Moneyglass maestro displayed her wide range of skills, especially in the first half, to guide the Saffron clad girls to a convincing win, sending over points with left foot, right foot, hitting five of her team’s first six scores. That other score came from Aoife Taggart who was on hand to stab the ball home after a Prenter free landed a bit short and was palmed into her path by Fermanagh goalkeeper Gleeson.

Antrim were seven to the good at the break, which was not an insurmountable hurdle, given the strength of the breeze. But, just as they had done in the first half the Antrim defence were in control, and though Fermanagh spent a lot more time in the Antrim half than they had in the first, the home side were never really too badly challenged.

When they did journey upfield they were much better in front of goal than their opponents, and Lara Dahusi hit two great scores to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Prenter saw a lot less of the ball than she had in the first half, but a point she scored from play from the right corner was worth the admission alone, turning her marker in the right corner before cutting in a curling one over with the left.

A confident start for the All Ireland Junior Champions, whose sights this year are surely set on promotion. London are calling on their next outing as they travel to Ruislip to take on the exiles, who lost out to the other team in the group, Carlow, on Sunday. If they get through that challenge then they are back in Belfast on March 5th for a vital clash with the Carlow girls in what should be a cracking game.

ANTRIM: A McCann; D Coleman, E Ferran, N McIntosh; S Tennyson, C Brown, S O’Neill; A Mulholland, L Dahunsi (0-2); T Mellon, C Carey, A Tubridy; B Devlin (0-1), O Prenter (0-9, 3 frees), A Taggart (1-1)

Subs: O Corr for T Mellon (37), C Taggart for A Tubridy (44), A Kelly for S Tennyson (48), B Cahill for A Taggart (53)

Yellow cards: A Mulholland (48), C Taggart (53)

FERMANAGH: R Gleeson; E Keenan, M McGloin, E Murphy; C Bogue, C Murphy, S McCarville; SJ Flanagan, A O’Brien; R O’Reilly (0-1 free), D Maguire (0-5, all frees), S Britton; B Bannon, N McManus, L Grew (1-0)

Subs: E McMahon for S Britton (44), C Martin for L Grew (45), A Maguire for C Bogue (46), A McCabe for B Bannon (57), E Tierney for SJ Flanagan (60+1)

Yellow cards: C Bogue (18), A O’Brien (45)

REFEREE: Christopher Morgan (Down)

St Louis seal place in All Ireland final

All-Ireland Senior B camogie Semi-finals

St Louis Ballymena 1-19 St Joseph’s Lucan 0-4

Pics by Brian McKee

ST LOUIS Ballymena followed up their comprehensive quarter-final victory midweek with another comfortable semi-final win in Ahoghill over Dublin champions St Joseph’s Lucan.

Although Lucan won the toss, they elected to play into the strong breeze and were in trouble as early as the fifth minute when Sarah Fyfe’s strong run placed Ciara O’Boyle for a goal. St Louis were 1-2 up and in control of the tie, going on to leady by 1-12 to 0-1 at the break.

If there was room for criticism, the mid-Antrim school were not clinical enough in going for goals when they got openings, happy enough to tap over points and keep the score-board moving.

Katie Molloy and Anna McKillop each scored three points from play during the first half with O’Boyle adding two points to her goal.

Sophie McIntyre scored Lucan’s only point in the 11th minute, probably the best score of the half.

Even though Lucan scored two of the first three points of the second half there was never a threat to Ballymena’s dominance with Sarah Fyfe and Anna McKillop (two each) and Casey Crawford hitting five points during the last quarter before Aoibhinn Scott brought the scoring to a close with an injury time free for Lucan.

In the other semi-final in Gorey, the local Community school eased past Munster champions St Mary’s Nenagh on a 2-13 to 1-2 scoreline after holding their visitors scoreless in the first half and running up 1-8 at half-time.

St Louis: E McGivern, S Shannon, A McKillen, L McGarry, D Dobbin, A O’Donnell, E Coulter (0-1), C Griffin, K Molloy (0-3), C Crawford (0-1), S Fyfe capt (0-3), A McKillop (0-6, 3 frees), M Gately, C O’Boyle (1-3), E Johnstone (0-2).

Subs: A Cosgrove for C O’Boyle (55), C O’Kane for S Fyfe (57), A Valelly for L McGarry (57), E Gould for M Gately (59).

St Joseph’s: M Farrell, E gaire, C Ware capt., L Flanagan, C Costello, L Rooney, L Dunne, A Scott (0-2 frees), R Reilly, O Morrissey, H Gibbs (0-1), S McIntyre (0-1), R McKendry, A Behan, A Stokes.

Subs: A Murtagh for R McKendry (41).

Referee: O Elliott

Antrim go Down to agonising defeat

Allianz National Football League – Division 3

Down 2-18 Antrim 2-17

Antrim footballers have suffered many disappointing defeats over the years but Saturday evening’s reverse at Pairc Esler in Newry must be near the top of that list. Beaten on their first day out last week against Offaly when they squandered enough chances to win comfortably, the Saffrons appeared to be on course to put that all behind them when they led Down by five points, with five minutes left to play in a highly entertaining game. However the Mourne men (who had started the match at odds of 1-8) produced a storming finish with a Conor Poland goal, plus points from Liam Kerr, Pat Havern and Andrew Gilmore to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Ruairi McCann (Aghagallon) fires the ball to the Down net for his team’s second goal

Barry O’Hagan had given the home side the lead with a point in the opening minute, but that was to be the only time they would lead until Havern’s injury time point as Antrim got the upper hand. In a great game of football Antrim hit back with four of the next five points, two from Ruairi McCann and one each from Ryan Murray and Joe Finnegan. Kane, Kerr and O’Hagan hit points apiece in reply to one from Antrim’s Conor Stewart to level matters by the 24th minute, but great play by Antrim’s Ryan Murray set up Ruairi McCann for a brilliant goal soon afterwards and when Stewart hit his second point of the game the Saffrons were four to the good.

The excellent Gilmore brought Down back on terms again when he slotted over a point and followed it up with a goal, but Antrim finished the first half strongly and a second goal from Ruairi McCann after being placedby Adam Loughran, plus points from Finnegan and James McAuley saw them go in at the break with a 2-8 to 1-9 advantage.

The home side started the second half well and points from Kerr and Havern brought them level once again, but Antrim responded really well as goalkeeper Michael Byrne landed a 45, Ryan Murray hit a beauty from play and Dominic McEnhill slotted over another neat score. Gilmore and Shay Millar came back with points for Down, but when Antrim responded with points from McEnhill, Marc Jordan and Paddy Finnegan the Saffrons seemed to be set for victory.

However disaster struck for the visitors when points from substitute Eamon Brown and Odhran Murdoch were followed by a scrambled goal from Conor Poland which gave the home side their second win of the campaign.

Heartbreak for the Saffrons and their manager Andy McEntee, who must have thought his side had done enough to gain the points. Still the Meath man must take a lot of encouragement from Saturday evening’s performance and hope they can get their first win when they visit Semple Stadium in Thurles in two weeks’ time to take on Tipperary  

The Antrim team who lost out to Down Saturday evening’s NFL Division 3 game in Newry

Down scorers: A Gilmore 1-4 (0-2f), C Poland 1-0, L Kerr 0-3 (0-1f), B O’Hagan 0-3 (0-1f), O Murdock 0-3 (0-1f), Pat Havern 0-2, Niall Kane 0-1 (0-1 45), S Millar 0-1, E Brown 0-1.

Antrim scorers: Ruairi McCann (Aghagallon) 2-1, C Stewart 0-3, D McEnhill 0-3 (0-1m), R Murray 0-2, M Byrne 0-2 (0-1f, 0-1 45), P Finnegan 0-2, J McAuley 0-1, J Finnegan 0-1, Ruairi McCann (Creggan) 0-1 (0-1f), A Loughran 0-1.

Antrim full back Declan Lynch tries to take it all in at the end

Saffrons slip to Kilkenny defeat in League opener

Allianz Hurling League – Division 1b

Antrim 0-15 Kilkenny 1-18

Saturday 4 February

Brendan McTaggart reports from Corrigan Park, Belfast

The one that got away.  Antrim took on the might of Kilkenny in a wind swept Corrigan Park on Saturday afternoon and by the final whistle, the overriding emotion is one of regret.  This one was there for the taking against the Cats and the look of disappointment on faces as the Saffrons trudged off the Whiterock Road pitch said it all. 

Trailing by four at half time with the wind not only increasing in speed but also dramatically changing direction, the hurling Gods looked to have smiled favourably on Darren Gleeson’s men.  Antrim had the benefit of playing with the wind in both halves of this Allianz League Division One encounter but they couldn’t take advantage.

In fairness, they came up against a team who were led superbly by Padraig Walsh at the heart of their defence while Huw Lawlor and captain Cillian Buckley also shone.  The Cat’s retention of possession and ability to find a man coming off the shoulder was that little bit better than the Saffrons over the 70 minutes and was a major factor in deciding where the league points went to by the full time whistle.

Kilkenny centre back Padraig Walsh who gave a great display in the Cat’s win over Antrim at Corrigan Park.

Antrim had their own stand out performers, also in defence.  Ryan McGarry excelled on the edge of his own square, especially in the first half while Eoghan Campbell was in the thick of everything in the next line up.  Paddy Burke was Antrim’s stand-out performer overall however.  Solid defensively and broke the black and amber lines on numerous occasions looking to create chances for an Antrim forward unit that had an immense battle on their hands to get any kind of freedom against a water-tight Kilkenny defence.

Conal Cunning top scored for the Saffrons with 0-8 beside his name, all coming from placed ball while the next best from play was Niall McKenna’s total of two points.  League debutant Billy Drennan finished with 1-8 for the Cat’s, seven frees within his total and his accuracy from placed ball despite the troublesome elements always gave Derek Lyng’s men a degree of control. 

When analysing this game, Antrim will look at a 15 minute period in the second half when they had the Cat’s rattled.  Despite scoring three points, they hit a number of wides and didn’t make the most of their chances.  At a time when Kilkenny were struggling with the intensity Antrim were bringing, they were thankful for a number of dubious refereeing decisions that went their way and left the Saffron management seething. 

Ryan Ellliott who had a great game in the Antrim goals

The Cat’s saw off the Saffron storm and acclimatised to the wind and rain as the half progressed with Drennan’s frees pivotal.  They scored the last four points of the game to give the scoreboard a deceiving if not flattering outlook in their favour by the time the full time whistle was sounded.

The Saffrons looked nervous in the opening exchanges, despite James McNaughton’s early score.  The Loughgiel man showing his class and turn of pace before splitting the uprights.  The 2022 All-Ireland finalists go the score board ticking with a long range free taken by ‘keeper Aidan Tallis.

Conal Cunning fired over a brace of frees either side of scores from Padraig Walsh and Paul Cody.  The Cat’s were looking dangerous in attack which wasn’t helping the Saffron nerves.  Cian Kenny bringing a top drawer save from Ryan Elliott after a loose pass in the Antrim defence.  The sliothar was recycled and John Donnelly split the upright to put three between the sides before Kilkenny scored the only goal of the game.  Kenny with the assist despite the attentions of the Antrim defence, finding Drennan on the run and in acres of space.  He fired low and to the bottom corner to put daylight between the sides.

The goal sparked a response from Antrim as they hit three of the next four points.  A pair of frees from Cunning and a great score from Conal Bohill coming with a Drennan free the only response for the visitors.

Antrim’s James McNaughton gets back to help out his defence

Paul Cody and Drennan (free) fired over for Kilkenny in quick time before superb points from Neil McManus and Niall McKenna left Drennan’s goal between the sides.  Kenny had another look at Elliott’s goal as he intercepted a poor pass in the Antrim defence but with the Antrim goal at his mercy, he fired wide with Walter Walsh firing over soon after to put four between the sides with five minutes of the half remaining.

McKenna and Martin Keoghan swapped scores before the half time whistle to leave Kilkenny ahead 1-10 to 0-9 at the interval.

Antrim made changes at half time with Seaan Elliott and Phelim Duffin coming in for Eoin O’Neill and Niall O’Connor.  With the dark clouds hanging low and rain pouring, the wind switched to favour Antrim.  An astonishing turnaround, even by Corrigan Park standards and with Antrim trailing by four, they would have fancied their chances of eating into the Kilkenny lead.

Kilkenny midfielder John Donnelly with his Glenravel cousin Caroline ‘Donnelly’ McFadden, her husband John McFadden and their three children at the end of Sunday’s game at Corrigan Park

Cunning and Drennan swapped frees in a gritty opening that saw both sides struggle with the elements.  Another Drennan free put five between the sides but that would be the last Kilkenny score for 12 minutes as Antrim turned the screw.  They found another level of intensity in the middle third and kept the pressure on the visiting defence with scores coming from Keelan Molloy, Paddy Burke and a Cunning free.  It could and should have been better however such was the wave of attacks and momentum heavily in the Saffrons favour.

The two point deficit was as close as they came to the Cat’s as Kilkenny began to adjust.  Drennan (two) and Cunning swapped frees to leave three between the sides going into the last ten minutes of the game.

Cunning’s eighth free of the game came in the 63rd minute but was ultimately Antrim’s last score of the hour.  Kilkenny’s better use of the sliothar shone in the closing stages with Martin Keoghan (three) and Drennan all finding the target in the time that remained.

Ultimately it was another reminder of how harsh Division One hurling can be for the Saffrons who could easily have recorded an opening day win.  As it is however, they travel to Parnell Park next Sunday and a meeting with the Dubs.

The Antrim team who played Kilkenny at Corrigan Park

TEAMS

Antrim: Ryan Elliott; Niall O’Connor, Ryan McGarry, Paddy Burke; Gerard Walsh, Eoghan Campbell, Conal Bohill; Joe Maskey, Michael Bradley; Niall McKenna, Keelan Molloy, James McNaughton; Conal Cunning, Neil McManus, Eoin O’Neill

Subs: Phelim Duffin for N O’Connor (HT); Seaan Elliott for E O’Neill (HT); Conor Johnston for J Maskey (43); Paul Boyle for K Molloy (65)

Scorers: C Cunning 0-8 (8fs); N McKenna 0-2; P Burke 0-1; C Bohill 0-1; K Molloy 0-1; J McNaughton 0-1; N McManus 0-1

Kilkenny: Aidan Tallis; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Niall Powey; Cillian Buckley, Padraig Walsh, David Blanchfield; Paddy Deegan, John Donnelly; Walter Walsh, Cian Kenny, Paul Cody; Billy Drennan, Martin Keoghan, Billy Ryan

Subs: Shane Murphy for P Cody (HT); Tom Phelan for C Kenny (63); Alan Murphy for W Walsh (68)

Scorers: B Drennan 1-8 (7fs); M Keoghan 0-4; P Cody 0-2; A Tallis 0-1 (1f); P Walsh 0-1; J Donnelly 0-1; W Walsh 0-1

Referee: Chris Mooney (Dublin)

Kickham’s GAC Creggan Annual Presentation evening