Four goals from full forward Cassie McArthur steered Dunloy to victory over Cushendall in Tuesday evening’s Division 1 game at Pearse Park. Dunloy dominated for most of the game, though Cushendall had a real purple patch early in the second half when they scored 2-4 without reply. However they were chasing the game by this stage and Dunloy were never really threatened.
The visitors hit the first two scores inside a minute through Siobhan McKillop and LauraMcMullan but they would hit one more for the remainder of the first half Dunloy hit top gear. Points from the two corner forward Miachaela Elliott and Aine Magill were followed by a goal from full forward Cassie McArthur. Aine Magill and her cousin Cassie McArthur made it three goals in a row and by half time they were 4-8 to 0-3 clear, Cushendall’s other point coming from Sine Woodhouse.
Cushendall’s purple patch at the start of the second half brought them back into the game. It started with points from Siobhan McKillop, Monique O’Boyle Ellen Leech, followed by goals from Siobhan McKillop and Sinead Cosgrove, and to top it all off Caoimhe O’Hara added another point.
The gap that was seventeen was now down to seven, but that was as good as it got as the Cuchullains hit their stride again and a Caoimhe Molloy point, plus another McArthur goal and one from Orlagh O’Neill, slammed the door firmly shut. Ellen Leech hit the visitors’ last point before Caoimhe Molloy ended it all with three Dunloy points in a row to secure two more league points
Sunday 13th June saw the opening of the Tesco All Ireland U16 Camogie League in All Saint GAA Grounds between Ulster rivals Derry and Antrim. Derry with the breeze on their backs started better thanks to brilliant link up play between Orlaith Hull and Blathnaid McLaughlin, which saw the Oakleaf County take a 1-1 to 0-1 lead in the opening few minutes.
Derry’s defence was solid for most of the first half, with team captain Eimear Doherty at centre back and her two wings Aoife McOscar and Lucy Harris letting nothing past them. The Antrim midfield in the shape of number 8 Cara O’Boyle was great throughout for Antrim, partnered by her wing half forward Emily Sharpe. Both their catching and long range striking kept Antrim ticking over on the scoreboard, and likewise Orlaith Hull from the dead ball was extremely accurate.
Derry looked to be going into half time leading but Clodagh McPeake have different ideas – lapses in concentration from Derry ended up with the home side getting two quick goals. Which saw them lead at half time by 2-7 to 2-5.
Antrim really got a grip on the game in the third quarter where they punished Derry, and with Anna McKillop and Mollie O’Connell scoring freely as they took advantage of the strong breeze.
Antrim made hay while the sun shone and it has to be said that Derry could have been down by a lot more if it wasn’t for the excellence of Roisin Doherty between the posts, her high catching under pressure and saves were impressive throughout the afternoon.
Derry’s Rhiannon Comer and Orla Mullan battled hard and made Antrim work for every score. Tactically Antrim crowded the Derry half and forced a lot of handling mistakes too – the second and final water break came at the right time for the team sporting their new red and white jerseys sponsored by River Bann Tours.
In the last 15minutes Noelle McAuley and Erin Coulter were exceptional for Antrim when the pressure was on but the visitors’ midfielder Ellen Doyle worked tirelessly all day. Doyle delivered a fantastic ball into Natalie McKenna, which resulted in a third goal for Derry, but smart play and sharp shooting from Alana McKendry saw the home side clear with 8 points to spare.
Both teams will take a lot from the game, both their first outing’s and still all to play for, Derry in the remaining game against Meath in Owenbeg next week. Final score Antrim 2.17 Derry 3.6
Littlewoods Ireland Division Two League Semi-final
Antrim 0-12 Meath 1-8 An unbelievable finish. The commitment, the effort, they never gave up,” enthused Paul McKillen at the end of a league semi-final in Inniskeen that had the most dramatic of endings. “I thought that last week’s performance was excellent. This week it was even better as we had to dig ourselves out of a rut because we allowed Meath to get control of a game we should have been well ahead in.
“There were small things near the end that stood out. Caitriona (Graham) made an outstanding catch. It rallied us. The defence played so, so well and you have to factor in that we were missing a couple of our more experienced players.“We just couldn’t get the breaks in the second half. Nothing ran for us and they had a lot of momentum. But the important thing was that we kept going. We fought for everything and the last two scores came because of our battling spirit.“Caitrín (Dobbin) worked hard during the whole of the second half and couldn’t get that break. But she never gave up and the break she got right at the death won the match. I am over the moon.”It was a really dramatic final few minutes just when it looked as if the Antrim dream was going to come to an end in Inniskeen!
Seconds into injury time there was a high delivery in on the Antrim goal. Cáitríona Graham and Meath substitute Claire Coffey challenge for it. Coffey got the touch – but it went over the bar. It could have been a goal, but the point was enough to put the Royals ahead for the first time.They had built up serious momentum from the penalty goal in the first half injury time that brought them back within striking distance of the Saffrons at 0-7 to 1-1.
It might have taken Meath 48 minutes to grab the first score that wasn’t from a placed ball, but Antrim were under serious pressure in attack, the arrival of Megan Thynne from a football semi-final against Cavan that threw in at noon really curtailing Caitrin Dobbin in the corner that had the space. In the next two minutes after Coffey’s lead point, Antrim hit a wide and Maeve Kelly picked up a yellow card. Time seemed to be running out on the Saffrons. But the game isn’t over until the final whistle and Antrim amazingly turned it around in the last 30 seconds to snatch victory at the death.
Firstly Laoise McKenna played the sliotar down the left wing where Róisín McCormick broke clear and turned to hook over an equaliser. From the poc out Nicole O’Neill played the long ball in for Caitrín Dobbin to fire over the winner from an acute angle.It wasn’t a convincing performance from Antrim and they will need to improve significantly over the next week if they are to repeat their opening day victory over Down. But they got just enough scores to see them reach their first league final in a decade. However it was so different over the opening 25 minutes when they played into the breeze, took the game to Meath and could have been a lot further ahead on the score-board. During that period there were two points each for Caitrín Dobbin, Maeve Kelly and Anna Connolly and the Meath defence was under constant pressure, while the Antrim back-line had conceded just one point, and that from a free.
Then came that fairly soft penalty award that Jane Dolan struck low to the corner and Meath were rejuvenated. They came out for the second half a completely different team and the double substitution of Máire Kirby and Megan Thynne in the 38th minute put Antrim on the back foot. Thynne tied up the loose knots in defence and Kirby’s pace began to worry Antrim at the back. Kirby could have had a goal near the end, a few seconds after Antrim’s substitute Christina Laverty blasted their only real goal opportunity wide of the post.
All the scores in the third quarter came from frees with Dolan narrowing the gap to 0-9 to 1-4 at the second water break and it was the 48th minute that Grace Coleman reached high to fire over Meath’s first score from open play. Amy Gaffney drew the sides level then before Lucia McNaughton and Sinéad Hackett exchanged points to set up the added time drama.
Former Cushendall teacher Kathleen Darragh today launched a beautiful little children’s book of words and illustrations aimed at 3 years olds and up. The book, which is entitled ‘ABC goes GAA’ is designed so your child can learn their ABC’s, look out for their club and county colours, and learn about all the exciting activities they can take part in with their friends, when they play GAA.
The book is dedicated to the memory of her son John Darragh who died tragically thirty years ago on April 9th 1991 after collapsing during an Under 14 hurling match. He was taken to hospital but died three days later. John Darragh may only have been 14 years of age but in his short years he made a lasting impression in his club Ruairi Og, his school Cross & Passion College and throughout the county. The Darragh Cup is now played for in his memory by minor teams throughout north Antrim.
Kathleen Darragh grew up in Belfast, close to Casement Park but only became an active GAA follower when she married Malachy Darragh and moved to the Glens in 1972.
Kathleen takes up the story “Sunday afternoons were devoted to attending hurling matches. Then when the children started hurling, there were a lot of training sessions, matches and events to attend.
As an early years’ teacher, my instinct towards writing always leaned to this age group.
The idea for “ABC goes GAA” started a few years ago. Like all book ideas it took quite a few drafts, edits and head scratching! I wanted the book to reflect the ethos of the GAA in terms of its place in society as a voluntary Irish sporting organisation, which promotes the health and wellbeing of its members and followers, taking account of age, gender, race and disability.
The text was stored on my laptop. Near the end of the first lockdown, a friend asked me “ What have you done about your book idea ?” So spurned on to accomplish something in lockdown, I started the search for an artist. I was put in touch with Grace and when she sent me some samples of her work, the decision was made. At this stage I knew I would be going down the self-publishing route.
Over the following months Grace and I collaborated closely and with the assistance of Impact Printers Ballycastle, we now have “ ABC goes GAA “ on sale.”
The book was completed in April, thirty years on from the event that cemented the Darragh name in Antrim hurling history. As Seamus Heaney so beautifully put it “When history and time rhyme”
This is wonderful publication which is on sale online at just £7 – a must for any GAA fans with a young family.
Littlewoods Ireland Division Two Camogie League Semi-finals
Saturday 12th June
2pm : Inniskeen: Antrim v Meath
ANTRIM overcame Meath by 1-16 to 2-9 in the group stages of the All-Ireland Intermediate championship last November. At the time this registered as a bit of a shock in the competition as Meath had just come down after a few years in the senior championship and were expected to do well at Intermediate level.
Despite losing to Westmeath in Round Two of this year’s league, the Royals still managed to top their group on score-difference and then they scored a dramatic injury time goal last Saturday to knock out Kilkenny in the quarter-finals.
The line-out is remarkably similar to the one that faced Antrim more than six months ago – even the scorers are quite similar. Jane Dolan hit six points in November and 1-3 at the weekend while Megan Thynne was a goal-scorer in both games. That said, the same players were scoring for Antrim in both games.
Antrim though have five new faces in their team for this semi-final, some of them are forced after injuries over the past two games to Chloe Drain and Maeve Connolly while others were not involved last autumn but came on board this season.
The Saffrons have shown a certain resilience in two of their three games this term. Against both Down and Galway they had to withstand an early onslaught just to get a foothold in the game. Once that was achieved they went in front and were good at defending that lead.
In each game they lost a key defender inside the first quarter and that was a huge test against Galway in particular as they were already down two defenders from the comfortable win they achieved over Derry the week before.
I understand that neither Chloe Drain nor Maeve Connolly will be fit for this semi-final and it is doubtful that they will make it in time for the final should Antrim make it through. Maria Lynn however should be available to resume at corner-back while the two players who came in last week, Laoise McKenna and Ciara Laverty, will probably keep starting jerseys.
Meath have a number of decent players – Maeve Clinch and Tracey King in defence, the midfield pairing of Aedin Slattery and captain Kristina Troy as well as Thynne and Dolan up front – and these will all have to be closely watched.
However in Down and Galway, Antrim have beaten better teams in recent games. Compared to last November which really was in the early stages of the McKillen/McKernan reign, they are a more organised team with a defined game-plan and they have also come together well as a team unit.
An undefeated run is also a confidence boost. Antrim will probably be favourites and deservedly so. But Meath carry a threat and can exploit any weaknesses.