Antrim have room for improvement, but the win is what matters

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate championship

Antrim 5-10 Carlow 4-9

LOOKING at the final score-line in this Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate championship game in Inniskeen it would appear that Antrim were pushed close by Carlow, but in reality the winners were in control from early in the game, generally had a lead of between eight or nine points, only to concede a goal and two points in injury time.

Maeve Kelly runs at the Carlow defence

However overall it was a patchy performance although joint manager Jim McKernan was happy enough.

“That gets us up and running. We haven’t done a lot of work to be fair and you can only get so much from an in-house training game.

“Then you had the goings-on yesterday and we probably were down in Inniskeen far too early because we were not sure about the garda checkpoints and all.

“When you put all those things together, I think that we did pretty well and we won the game which was the whole point.

“Yes we were a little rusty and we can build on that performance for the next game.”

Although Antrim were hanging around for about two hours before throw-in, they were out of the blocks fairly quickly with Nicole O’Neill on the sliotar a lot during the opening quarter.

The Dunloy ace scored two of the first four points and was involved in the move for the other two scored by Christine Laverty and Róisín McCormack before Ciara Quirke eventually got Carlow off the mark with a point in the 10th minute.

Orlagh O’Hara celebrates after scoring the second of her two goals

Straight from the poc out however Nicole O’Neill found Orlagh O’Hara and her neat lay-off saw Róisín McCormack cut in and force the sliotar over the line.

Although Catherine Kavanagh responded with a fine point for Carlow, Antrim responded again from the poc out and Maeve Kelly’s delicately floated pass found Orlagh O’Hara between full-back and ‘keeper and the Cushendall full-forward neatly tucked it away for a 2-4 to 0-2 lead at the water-break.

That break did not disrupt the momentum Antrim had built up and they hit the next 1-3 with O’Hara again the goal-scorer, this time O’Neill supplying the pass.

So it was looking comfortable going into half time only for Carlow to suddenly find their feet and Eibhe Lawler’s point was quickly followed by a good individual goal from Ciara Quirke after a pass from Rachel Sawyer.

Eibhe Lawler started the second half with a point inside 15 seconds to close the gap further to 3-7 to 2-4. However at the other end Christine Laverty was taken down for a penalty and Roisín McCormack did the rest.

In the 38th minute a long delivery from Emma Coady found Catherine Kavanagh and she fired home a second Carlow goal.

However the Loughgiel trio of Christine and Ciara Laverty and Caitrin Dobbin posted three excellent points in reply and, entering the last quarter, the Saffrons looked home and dry.

Antrim’s Caitrin Dobbin

A goal from Ciara Quirke in the 52nd minute however reduced the gap to six points. Maeve Kelly then burst the tackle at the other end and ran in to find the net. That score was needed with points from free-taker Eleanor Treacy and Even Sinnott followed by Kavanagh’s second goal. However there was no time for any more and Antrim’s campaign was up and running with a victory.

Chloe Drain, Niamh Donnelly and Amy Boyle swept up a lot of ball in both halves with Maeve Connolly dominant before half-time.

Emma Laverty put in a good shift at midfield and Nicole O’Neill was effective both at centre-forward and then as a midfielder dropping deep against the breeze. All the forwards scored, but there probably is a lot more scores in them and getting this game under their collective belts will help as they move forward in the competition.  

Antrim’s Chloe Drain comes out of defence with the ball

Antrim : Eimear Boyle, Clare McKillop, Kathryn Donnelly, Chloe Drain, Niamh Donnelly, Maeve Connolly capt., Amy Boyle, Emma Laverty, Ciara Laverty (0-1), Maeve Kelly (1-1), Nicole O’Neill (0-2), Christine Laverty (0-2), Roisin McCormack (2-2, 1-0 pen., 0-1 free), Orlagh O’Hara (2-0), Caitrin Dobbin (0-2).

Subs : Niamh Anne Donnelly for K Donnelly (48), Ciara Dobbin for C Laverty (48), Áine Donnelly for O O’Hara (56).

Carlow :  Hannah Rapley, Tara Wilson, Niamh Quirke, Shannon Kavanagh, Emma Cody, Kate Nolan capt., Mairead O’Shea, Eleanor Treacy (0-3 frees), Eve Sinnott (0-1), Anna Breen, Ciara Quirke (2-1), Ali Cushen, Rachel Sawyer, Eibhe Lawler (0-3), Catherine Kavanagh (2-1)

Sub : Keeva Collins for A Cushen (41)

Referee : EP Cassidy (Derry)

Antrim County Camogie Chairman Vincent Boyle (centre) with team captain Maeve Connolly (2nd right) and team member Katie McKillop, plus joint manager Jim ‘Jingo’ McKernan (left) and Paul ‘Humpy McKillen (right) as the girls hand over new water bottles and sliothars presented to the team by TeamKit Ballymena for this year’s Intermediate Championship campaign. They are seen here before Saturday’s opening match against Carlow at Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan.

Camogs plans disrupted, but they have the personnel to succeed

The Camogie Association’s Ardchomhairle’s decision to move tomorrow’s championship game between Antrim and Carlow to Inniskeen in county Monaghan has not been well received by the Gaels in Antrim.

The Saffron girls have been of the opinion for some months now that the game was going ahead in Whitehill, Randalstown and in the past week they had arranged to have the game live streamed to accommodate their supporters who are unable to attend because of the Covid restrictions.

All seemed fine until late on Thursday night when county secretary Claire Toal received an email informing her that the game and been switched to Inniskeen. Ironically Antrim Camogie Chairman Vinent Boyle had spoked to the Carlow chairperson that same evening and everything appeared to be fine, but within an hour everything changed and now the situation is totally different.

In a separate development, arising out of Thursday’s Archomhairle meeting it transpires that both the All-Ireland Intermediate and Junior championships will be redrawn at the start of the week with Dublin government’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media permitting each county to field just one team.

This means that the likes of Tipperary, Kilkenny, Galway, Wexford and Cork, who have senior teams are not permitted to field a second team at a lower level. However the games not involving those teams will go ahead as planned this weekend.

Coming on top of the Antrim footballers situation it is the last thing the county needed but the Camogs have to put it behind them and concentrate on winning the game. Iniskeen is a venue many of the team are familiar with. A good start is important in this round robin system and they have the players, and the management to make that start.   

What is going on here????

You really have to ask what is going on! Waterford footballers refused to travel to Portglenone, then Davitt’s when an alternative venue was suggested, but have agreed to play in Dundalk when Antrim called their bluff and said they would give up home advantage. Now the Antrim Camogs have been forced to travel to Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan to play a home game against Carlow. So much for the GAA being a 32 county organisation.

We all must do everything in our power to stay safe, and protect the vunerable during this terrible pandemic, but could someone please tell me what extra dangers would be incurred by travelling in a vehicle, be it bus or car, to Portglenone or Whitelhill rather than travelling to Dundalk or Inniskeen.  I am no expert in these matters but I would wager a guess that the Gortgore Road in Portglenone and Whitehill, Randalstown are not any higher on the Covid scale than the two new venues. Does common sense not come into it at all.

At least we have no such nonsense from the Westmeath hurlers

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).

Successful Year for Club Aontroma

12th October 2020

In what has been a great year for Club Aontroma as highlighted by the publication of their annual report. We at the Saffron Gael wish to thank them for their continued support


We are delighted to publish our ANNUAL REPORT as presented to our AGM on 12 October 2020. As you can see, Club Aontroma have had a successful year and have shared in the renewed enthusiasm for gaelic games and activities in our county over the past year. Notwithstanding the pandemic we have enjoyed a year of renewed productivity and output. We produced 6 high quality match day programs for our county finals and national league games, themselves showcasing the positivity of our senior panels and indeed the visionary ambitious nature of our clubs. We have spent your money wisely and have donated

– £25,000 to Corrigan Park Redevelopment,

– £1200 for two livestreams (Camogie and LGFA finals),

– £1332 for two Cumann na mBunscol kits,

– £500 to Saffron Gael,

– £700 for 12000 flyers & Pop Ups.


We are delighted to welcome county legends Jane Adams and Sambo McNaughton on board as well as Micky Maguire from Ardoyne, a former development squad coach and well respected figure in underage football to our committee.

We are delighted to announce our new PRO Sean Kelly who will also act as vice chairperson. Sean’s enthusiasm and talent as a PRO will not be lost to gaelic games in our county as he stands down from the formal county position due to term limits.

If you are not a member of Club Aontroma please consider joining!It is only £10 per month and due to our charitable status we can generate a further 27% in Gift Aid. You can join Club Aontroma now through your mobile phone at this weblink!

Believe in Saffron!