Antrim Camogie League – Division 2
Back on the 19th April at Fr Healy Park Loughgiel, MacUilín Ballycastle Manager Paul McKillen’s final pre-match words to his Div 2 charges before their encounter with their Loughgiel counterparts were ‘Girls if we can get something here tonight, we could give this league a good rattle’, little would he know that a 2-10 to 1-7 victory that night thanks to goals from Samantha McKillen and Elen Mc Intosh would lead to a winning streak of 11 matches which would secure the 2023 Camogie Division 2 league title.
Next up on 3rd May was a home tie to Belfast side Naomh Eoin, which threw up a convincing 6-18 to 1-2 scoreline, with the goals from Riana McBride (3), Tara McAfee (2) and Faye Roddy (1). 3 weeks later Ruairí Óg Cushendall would be next to visit Páirc MacUilín, the Town accruing 4-18 this time to the visitors 0-3, goals from Shannagh Heggarty (2), Riana McBride (1) and Noelle McAuley (1).
The fixture break for the school exam period ended with St Mary’s Ahoghill going down to a heavy 8-18 to 1-3 defeat on 21st June, a hat trick of goals for Kathryn Mullan and Janey McIntosh supplemented by two from Riana McBride.
A visit to Pearse Park Dunloy on 28th June saw the Town take advantage of the wind to build a 0-6 to 0-0 half time lead, however the home side were to push the ‘Castle all the way until second half goals from Janey McIntosh and Riana McBride proved vital for a valuable 2-10 to 1-7 win.
Sisters Janey and Elen McIntosh would share the goals in a 2-19 to 1-0 win over Cargin on the 5th July, a fortnight later Emma Connor, Riana McBride (3), Shannagh Hegarty and Faye Roddy would raise the green flags in the 6-18 to 1-3 win at Páirc Mhic Ionnrachtaigh, Gort na Mona.
The final game of the first phase of the league was a trip to Creggan Kickhams and a Janey McIntosh first half goal helped in a 1-22 to 2-4 win.
With the league now split into the top 5, the scene was then set for a mighty top of the table clash on 9th August with Loughgiel whose only defeat was against Ballycastle in the opening fixture. The game didn’t fail to deliver, an Elen McIntosh goal helping to build a 1-11 to 0-7 half time lead, three second half goals from the visitors threatened to overturn, but an impeccable return from free taker Riana McBride whose 0-9 total included an outrageous long-range score which will live long in the memory.
Next up would be the return fixture with Ahoghill and a hat trick of goals from Elen McIntosh were complimented by majors from Laura Dallas and Kathryn Mullan in a 5-18 to 1-7 win. A 4-19 to 1-8 win over Creggan in the penultimate game was enough to secure the league title, the goals this time shared by Elen McIntosh (2), Samantha McKillen and Faye Roddy.
Going into the last game v Dunloy, the chances of 12 wins from 12 games were dealt a harsh blow due to a multitude of injuries to key players and the promotion of some players to the Senior Championship, however the depleted side did put in a battling performance going down by a four-point margin, Maria Bakewell and Elen McIntosh getting the goals in a 2-10 to 4-8 defeat.
Match Referee Owen Elliott was on hand afterwards to present the silverware to MacUilín captain Kathryn Mullan. A fantastic and historic year for the Ballycastle Division 2, Senior Reserve Camógs.