Shamrocks in seventh heaven

Antrim senior camogie final :

Loughgiel 3-11 Ballycastle 2-5

LOUGHGIEL Shamrocks made it seven titles on the trot when they beat Ballycastle in Sunday’s Antrim Senior Camogie final in perfect conditions at Kelly Park, Portglenone on Sunday evening, a win that stretches their title haul to 23, well ahead of Dunloy and Portglenone who 11 each.

The Shamrocks were in control from the start as player of the match Roisin McCormick struck early and often as she guided her team to a 1-4 to 0-0 lead, 1-3 of it from her own stick. Ballycastle took a while to get going and when Maeve Kelly scored a great individaul goal they were back in contention. However they Town could not maintain their pressure and Loughgiel regained control to go on record a nine point win.

Loughgiel full forward Christine Laverty jumps for joy after Roisin McComrick (out of picture) scores the Shamrocks opening goal.

McCormick opened the scoring when she raced clear to point after 25 seconds and she had opened up a 1-3 lead after eight minutes, Clare McKillop and Christine Laverty combining to set her up for the goal.

A minute later Caitrin Dobbin extended the Loughgiel lead and it looked ominous for Ballycastle.

However Maeve Kelly eventually won and converted a free in the 11th minute and Ballycastle were back in business when the same player cut in along the end line and forced the sliotar over the line. With Niamh O’Neill adding a point, Ballycastle were now just two in arrears at 1-4 to 1-2.

The Town kept pace with the Shamrocks for the second quarter and were 1-7 to 1-4 down at the break with McCormick scoring 1-6 for the holders.

Caitrin Dobbin scores Loughgiel’s third goal

In almost an identical passage of play to the Kelly goal in the first half, Róisín McCormick picked up a long free into the corner from Maeve Connolly, bounced off a couple of tackles and fired home a second Loughgiel goal in the 34th minute.

When Dobbin cut in from the other wing to score a third goal, the result was more or less in the bag. It was just a case of cutting out Ballycastle’s route to goal.

That was capably achieved by their excellent half-back line and midfield, allied to the clever work of Ciara Laverty as sweeper, and they pinned Ballycastle into their own half forcing Maeve Kelly their main scoring threat to come very deep to forage and then attempt to solo through looking for scores.

Ballycastle’s Maeve Kelly in action during the county camogie final against champions Loughgiel.

The Town defence found the threat of McCormick and Dobbin very difficult to handle, but Enya McShane, Emma Laverty and Niamh Donnelly worked well to hold the line, although the Ballycastle attack could get little space at the other end.

Nuala Devlin managed to fire home a consolation goal near the end after several shots in the same attack had been parried by Eimear Boyle on the goal-line.

The star turn was Róisín McCormick who threatened the goal every time she gained possession with Caitrin Dobbin an excellent foil. The only pity is that the provincial final against the Derry champions will not take place until early January. In this sort of form, McCormick, Dobbin and Loughgiel were more impressive than what was on offer from either Swatragh or Slaughtneil who won their Derry semi-finals on Friday evening.

Roisin McComrick who was again the stand out player on show at the Antrim camogie final as she scored 2-9 as her Loughgiel team beat Ballycastle to take their seventh title on the trot.

Loughgiel : Eimear Boyle, Megan McGarry, Chloe Higgins, Ciara Laverty, Emma McFadden, Maeve Connolly, Shauna Devlin, Amy Boyle, Lucia McNaughton, Roisin McCormick 2-9, 0-4 frees, Anna Connolly, Emma McMullan, Caitrin Dobbin 1-1, Christine Laverty, Clare McKillop.

Subs : Katie McKillop for A Connolly (43), Racquel Murphy for L McNaughton (50), Orlagh Laverty 0-1 for S Devlin (59)

Ballycastle : Becky Ellis, Niamh Ann Donnelly, Catherine McShane, Enya McShane, Bronagh McCaughan, Kathryn Donnelly, Emma Laverty, Meabh O’Neill, Niamh Donnelly 0-2 frees, Aine Donnelly, Caoimhe Wright 0-1 free, Nuala Devlin 1-0, Maeve Kelly 1-1, 0-1 free, Emma Connor, Niamh O’Neill 0-1

Subs : Riana McBride for N O’Neill (44), Tara O’Neill for E Connor (50), Orla Donnelly for C McShane (50).

Referee : Joe Baldwin

County chairperson Imelda McCloud presents the cup to Loughgiel captain Maeve Connolly.

Brídíní Óga turn the tables in league final

U16 Div 1B league Final

Brídíní Óga Glenravel 5-5 Creggan 2-8

By Seamus McAleenan

THE under 16 season for Creggan and Brídíní Óga finished at two wins each and one piece of silverware each after the Glenravel girls bounced back from defeat in the championship final to pick up the league title at Ahoghill on Saturday.

Evanne Martin’s name was on everyone’s lips after the championship decider when the midfielder orchestrated a late fight back for Creggan to grab the title. This time the Brídíní Óga captain Sarah Fyfe was the key player in a game that could well have gone either way until she burst through the centre at the start of injury time and fired to the Creggan net for the fourth time.

Fyfe was the danger player throughout, but Glenravel could afford to persevere with her on the edge of the square because of the power of the Law twins at midfield, and the dominance of Jessica McIlhatton, Aisling Donnelly and Aisling Mulholland in defence in front of another star performer Caitlin McKeown who pulled off at least four brilliant stops during the second half.

Creggan struggled to cope with the intensity of the Glenravel challenge although they were never too far off them on the score-board thanks mainly to the probing of Cerys O’Neill who was one of three Creggan players to have won the Junior championship last Saturday.

O’Neill got Creggan off to the perfect start with a goal in the first minute. Although Emily Sharpe (with a point from a free) and Sarah Fyfe with a goal edged Brídíní Óga ahead, a good move from Creggan saw Mary Murray test Caitlin McKeown and the sliotar fell nicely for Cara McCann to tap home.

Fyfe and Ella McAteer swopped points before Fyfe took on the Creggan defence and forced home a goal. That put Brídíní Óga ahead and they maintained that advantage through to half time when they held a slender 2-4 to 2-3 lead.

Shortly after the re-start Sarah Fyfe completed her hat-trick, but from then until the water break it was all Creggan with McKeown called on several times to keep her team in the game.

Two Cerys O’Neill points closed the gap, but the Glenravel girls were still ahead, 3-4 to 2-6, by the second water break.

Emer Butler fired in a fourth goal for Glenravel on the restart, but Creggan had their chances to close in. However McKeown again pulled off a couple of point blank saves and as Brídíní Oga lifted the siege Emily Sharpe delivered a point after a strong run from Sarah Fyfe and Fyfe then iced the cake with her fourth goal.

It proved to be a good day for Glenravel at Ahoghill as earlier on their under 16 hurlers picked up the championship title with a flurry of goals. In the afternoon Sarah Fyfe hit the net often enough for the camógs to also take home silverware.

Brídíní Óga Glenravel : Caitlin McKeown, Roisin Mulholland, Jessica McIlhatton, Toni Kerr, Aisling Mulholland, Aisling Donnelly, Erin Coulter, Megan Law, Caitlin Law, Emily Sharpe (0-4, 3 frees), Eibhlin Gould, Eimear Butler (1-0), Niamh Small, Amy McIlhatton, Sarah Fyfe (4-1), Aoibhin McKenna

Subs : Annie Higgins for Toni Kerr, Clodagh McPeake for A McIlhatton, Caoimhe Higgins for A McKenna, Dearbhail Kerr for A Mulholland

Creggan: Trea Donnelly, Helen McElwee, Rose Carey-Small, Hannah Gately, Tara Hamill, Maria Gately, Neva Chauhan, Aine Colgan, Evanne Martin (0-2 frees), Ella McAteer (0-1), Roseanne Mulholland, Megan Darragh, Cara McCann (1-0), Mary Murray, Cerys ONeill (1-3).

Subs : Ashley Larkin for E Martin, Niamh McBride for H McElwee, Cora Duffin for T Hamill.

Referee : Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)

Tir na nOg claim the title in 7 goal thriller

Antrim Intermediate Camogie Championship final replay

Tír na nÓg 4-11 O’Donovan Rossa 3-6

Pics by Bert Trowlen

Last week these sides couldn’t be separated in a dull encounter at Hightown which finished 0-8 each but on Saturday in Ballymena Tir na nOg and Rossa shook off the defensive shackles to produce an enthralling final which produced 7 goal and 17 points over the hour.

In perfect conditions at Slemish Park, both sides served up a thriller with goals from Emily Falloon (2-0), Aine Devlin and Niamh Martin swinging it the way of the Whitehill girls with Devlin, who scored all 8 of Tir na nOg’s points last week adding another six today.

Rossa looked to be gaining the upper hand during the early exchanges but suffered a blow when Múirín Quinn was forced off with an injury midway through the opening half, a severe blow to the Rossa defence who were then hit with a rather fortuitous goal from Emily Falloon that spurred the Randalstown outfit on.

The sides were level early in the second half, but Tír na nÓg again struck with vital goals that saw the contest swing very much in their favour and they pushed on to take the title.

Emily Falloon was a constant threat for the Randalstown side playing in a deep role and behind most of the positive play that Tir na nOg produced while Aine Devlin was again excellent from placed balls.

Despite getting off to a great start with two early goals, Rossa just couldn’t keep up their early momentum as the Tír na nÓg defence got on top and kept a tight rein on their opponents for the rest of the game.

Aine Devlin was Tir na nOg’s only scorer a week ago and she opened their account today from an early free.

However, Rossa quickly settled and after a couple of missed opportunities, they struck for the game’s first goal on five minutes when Orlaith McCall’s long free troubled the Tir na nOg defence and after a mix-up Riona Matthews was on hand to finish to the net.

They were in for a second goal five minutes later when a fine move saw Sarah Armstrong place Matthews who set up Eimear Byrne and the wing-forward fired to the net.

Michaela Press made a good save at the other end from Carla O’Neill but Rossa added to their tally with Natalie McGuinness converting a free to move them 2-1 to 0-1 ahead at the water break.

Múirín Quinn was forced off injured and this seemed to unsettle the Rossa defence as Tír na nÓg stepped up a gear and began to take charge.

Devlin got them on their way from a free and another from play and they struck with their first goal on 25 minutes as Falloon’s long effort dropped to the net.

The scores began to flow for the Randalstown side with Devlin (free), Falloon, Caitlin McGaughey and Michaela Hegarty finding the target but Rossa had the final say of the half from a McGuinness free to leave them just two in arrears at the break and all still to play for in the second half.

The Belfast side made a good start to the second half and two pointed McGuinness frees levelled the contest and she hit another from play before Devlin squared matters once more.

However, Tír na nÓg again took charge with Devlin putting them back into the lead from a free and on 43 minutes they struck decisively and Caitlin McGaughey’s delivery was claimed by Carla O’Neill who found Falloon and she made no mistake as she fired to the net.

The Tir na nOg girls looked to be in for another but Bronagh Orchin cleared off the line from Hegarty who did hit a point moments later as Tír na nÓg led 2-10 to 2-5 at the water break.

They were now in the driving seat and when Niamh Martin robbed Rossa keeper Press with ten minutes remaining before finishing to the net it looked as good as over.

A Hegarty point followed as Tír na nÓg looked to have put the game to bed, but credit to Rossa who refused to give up and after Orlaith McCall landed a long free, they grabbed a lifeline when McGuinness found the net from a close range free to leave just five in it with five minutes remaining.

However, they just couldn’t create the opportunity for another major that really would have set up a grandstand finish as the Tír na nÓg’s closed shop.

Aine Devlin put the icing on another fine individual performance with her long range free dipping to the net to secure a deserved victory to add the Intermediate Camogie title to the Intermediate Hurling one the club won last weekend.

TÍR NA nÓG: A McAtamney; B Devlin, A Mooney, C Martin; EL McAreavey, O O’Neill, Cameron McGaughey; S O’Neill, Caitlin McGaughey (0-1); A Devlin (1-6, 1-4 frees, 0-1 45), C O’Neill, M Hegarty (0-3); N Martin (1-0), E Falloon (2-1), H Crilly. Subs: G Dobbin for H Crilly (HT), D O’Neill for C O’Neill (60+5).

ROSSA: M Press; N Semple, C Quinn, C McMenamin; B Orchin, M Quinn, O McCall (0-1 free); C McNeice, N Killen; R Matthews (1-0), N McGuinness (1-5, 1-4 frees), E Byrne (1-0); S Armstrong, C Shannon, M McGourty. Subs: E Matthews for M Quinn, G Shannon for R Matthews (44).

REFEREE: Owen Elliott (Ballymena)

Champions start as favourites

Antrim senior camogie final :

Sunday 6pm in Portglenone : Loughgiel v Ballycastle

FIVE weeks ago Ballycastle delivered a shock in the round robin series of the Antrim senior championship, beating Loughgiel 0-13 to 0-11 in Fr Healy Park. It was the Shamrocks’ first defeat in their domestic championship for seven years.

Back in 2013 it was straight knock out but this year there was a second chance and the defeat probably helped to counteract any complacency seven-in-a row chasing Loughgiel had. They bounced back from that defeat to thrash Cushendall and then hand Dunloy a 12 points’ defeat over the next ten days.

Loughgiel convincingly beat Cushendall in their semi-final

That confirmed their status as top team in the qualifying group and they went on to record a facile 4-15 to 1-3 victory over Cushendall in the semi-final last Saturday evening.

Probably the most satisfying aspect of that victory was the fact that 4-13 was scored from open play by eight different players and that variety of options could prove significant as they prepare to face Ballycastle for the fourth time in a final since 2015.

Their big game experience will also play a part; the likes of Emma McFadden, Emma McMullan, Maeve Connolly and Racquel McCarry are going for a ninth senior title backed up by the industry and youthful exuberance of Amy Boyle, Roisin McCormick and the Laverty sisters.

By contrast the Ballycastle club is in search of a maiden title, their three recent defeats to Loughgiel the only times they have reached the final.

A brilliant first half display by their forwards and a great defencive performance overall gave Ballycastle a hard earned win over Dunloy in their semi-final.

Last year was the closest the Town came to winning, tailing the champions all the way, but crucially never leading them and eventually going down by 2-10 to 1-9.

Their defence, then and in this last week’s semi-final against Dunloy, was excellent. Kathryn Donnelly has returned from cruciate trouble to play a leading part at centre half back with Catherine McShane building on last year’s performances at full back, while the tigerish Enya McShane and Emma Laverty control the wings.

But there are still question marks over their ability to deliver on the day. While they beat Loughgiel in the championship round robin, they went down in the league by a whopping 8-14 to 1-7 to the same opposition.

Even in last week’s semi-final a superb team performance in the opening half saw them turn over with a 1-8 to 0-1 advantage – and then nearly blow it. They failed to score during the second half and that drew pressure on their defence close to the end. A few more minutes and Dunloy might have got something out of the game.

Up front the score-taking of Caoimhe Wright and Maeve Kelly was breath-taking in that first half, but I felt that Kelly dropped too far back during the second half and there was not the same pressure applied up front.

The pair need to reproduce their opening half brilliance over the hour for Ballycastle to have a chance. The rest of the team can hold the Loughgiel attack to a reasonable target score, but they won’t make it through without a barrage of scores at the other end.

Loughgiel should make it seven.

Intermediate final replay

Last Saturday’s Intermediate final did justice to neither Rossa nor Tír na nÓg. The wet evening contributed to a low-scoring affair dominated by frees.

Rossa almost blew their chances with a number of second half wides, but still managed to snatch a draw. Tír na nÓg obviously need more scoring support for the excellent Áine Devlin. If that happens and Rossa’s accuracy improves we will have a much better quality game for the replay.

Champions Loughgiel in cruise control

Antrim Senior Camogie Championship semi-final

Loughgiel 4-15 Cushendall 0-6

Champions Loughgiel had a runaway win over Cushendall in Saturday’s Antrim Senior Camogie Championship semi-final in Armoy. Cushendall were well in the game for most of the first half and when Dervla Cosgrove grabbed her team’s goal on 24 minutes they were back within two points. However the Shamrocks hit the after burners at that stage and hit six points inside eight minutes, three of them from Lucia McNaughton, two from Caitrin Dobbin and one from a free by Roisin McCormick to lead by 1-10 to 1-02 at half time.

Any hopes Cushendall had of getting back into the game were dashed within a minute of the restart when midfielder Amy Boyle grabbed their second goal, and when Lucia McNaughton and Caitrin Dobbin followed with points they were thirteen clear. Orlagh O’Hara pulled a point back for Cushendall but there was no let-up in the Loughgiel play and a third goal soon followed from corner forward Orla Laverty.

Orlagh O’Hara got Cushendall’s final point but the scores kept coming from the ‘red machine’ and centre forward Anna Connolly got their fourth goal on 61 minutes to put the seal on another powerful team performance.