Antrim girls are Ulster champions

Ulster LGFA Festival of Football – Platinum U14 Final

Cavan 2-5 Antrim 2-13 

Both teams went into today’s Ulster Platinum Final, recording 7 victories & one defeat after the Festival of Football round robin series. Cavan’s only defeat was in the final game to Antrim, but by that stage the Breffni girls had already qualified for todays final. 

Played in very warm conditions at Emyvale Co. Monaghan, Antrim won the throw in and sent out a message of intent going immediately on the attack. The first couple of forays into the Cavan defense didn’t yield any reward but with relentless work from a strong half forward line, soon paid dividends. Orleigha McGuinness chipped in with 2 points from the wing while her cousin Bronagh converted a free to stretch the lead to 3. 

Antrim continued to dominate but failed to convert further scores and with a Cavan point & goal against the run of play, the large Cavan support were given plenty to shout about. The Saffron’s went again on the attack and after a well worked move, full forward Niamh McKinley restored parity with a point from 30m. 

Pics by Elaine Kelly

For the remaining 15 mins of the opening half Antrim dominated. The saffron defense was solid and with plenty of ball going into their inside forward line, a Cavan defensive structure was hard to penetrate and numerous chances went a begging. At the short whistle and although Antrim dominated possession & territory, the sides were still level at 1-1 to 0-4 with Cavan being the happier team heading into the changing rooms having withstood all that Antrim could throw at them. 

The second half started as had the first, with possession won from the throw in, quickly converted into attack and Bronagh McGuinness immediately converted a point to regain the lead. Further dominance at last produced it’s rewards as the ever busy midfielder, Aoife Kelly, rattled the net after a fine team move. Smelling blood, sub Alicia Boyd pointed with her first touch and another Bronagh McGuinness point kept the scoreboard ticking over. 

Back came Cavan with a point but hopes of a come back were shortly dashed as Ciara Maguire broke free, punching Antrim’s second goal to the net. Again Antrim pressed and as Cavan struggled to win their own kick outs, Bronagh & Orleigha McGuinness in the 14th minute further stretched the lead. Caoimhe McErlain’s endeavours were rewarded with a point after the water break and 2 further Bronagh McGuinness points opened up a commanding 13 point lead with 10 minutes remaining, Antrim winning the 2nd half at this stage by 2-8 to 0-1 making this the key quarter.

Cavan though did not throw in the towel. A Breffni goal after confusion in the Antrim defense was followed up by a pointed free. Two more Cavan points narrowed the gap the back to 8 with 5 mins remaining. Another Cavan point brought the gap to 7 but fine Antrim play in the final minutes saw Orleigha McGuinness round off a classy display, with a point deep into injury time to seal the first A Grade Ulster title by any Antrim Ladies Football team.

This was a richly deserved victory for Antrim today. Over the years the county have tasted B & C victories and contested (and lost) A finals. In 2019 the record for this squad is played 9 and won 8. The best that any Ulster team can boast. 

Although winning by 8 today, Antrim’s dominate performance should have made for a more comfortable scoreline. Erin Duffin & Sarah O’Neill had solid games today in defense. Tiernach Fegan played a strong captains role both on and off the field and was ably assisted by the strong running of Aileen McDonnell & Aoife Kelly. Up front it was all about the McGuinness girls & Caoimhe McErlain, who were central to most of the Antrim attacks. 

Well done to the 30 strong panel today who have got their just rewards for the their training since early December. Well done also to the management team of Justin McErlain, Damian McPeake, Ciaran McKinley & Linda Fegan for delivering this first milestone trophy for Antrim Ladies Football

In the end Ulster Ladies President Eileen Jones presented Antrim Captain Tiernach Fegan with the trophy which confirmed Antrim, for the first time, as the best in Ulster.

Saffrons storm back to seal final place

Lidl Division Four Ladies National League semi-final

Antrim 2-20-2-14 Louth (AET)

By Kevin Herron from St Tiernach’s Park, Clones

It’s very rare for an Antrim team to come out on the end of a winning result in Clones – ten years in fact- but this afternoon Antrim ladies became the first side since the senior men in 2009 to claim a victory at the home of Ulster football.

Beating Louth 2-20-2-14 after extra-time to seal a place in the Lidl Division Four league final in two-weeks time.

Twenty minutes previous victory looked unlikely as Lauren Boyle had edged Louth into a four-point lead two minutes into injury-time at the end of the second-half.

Maeve McCurdy hit a point when her side needed a goal – however enough time remained after the subsequent kick-out and Saoirse Tennyson won back possession to put the wheels in motion. Eventually the last roll of the dice saw  Cathy Carey rifle past Una Pearson to force two additional periods of extra-time as it finished 1-14-2-11.

With the momentum Antrim kicked on and substitute Ciara Durnein’s goal in the second period of extra-time helped the Saffrons into a commanding position.

There were some nervy moments late on, including Eimear Byrne finding the net with a minute remaining – though after consultation with his officials referee Declan Callaghan disallowed the goal because of a hand pass to the net.

The final whistle sounded shortly after and Antrim were able to celebrate a result that looked unlikely just four weeks ago when they suffered a 4-11-2-03 defeat at the hands of the same opposition.

Louth were over-whelming favourites to progress to the league decider in the clash between 1st and 4th in Division Four, but it was Antrim who made the brighter start on a warm day at St Tiernach’s Park.

Inside of the first five minutes Caitlin Taggart split the posts after a patient passing move through the hands and Saoirse Tennyson doubled the lead soon after, although a goal may have been on it was fine score from the skipper.  

Lauren Boyle hit back for Louth – but converted frees from Cathy Carey and Caitlin Taggart had the Saffrons 0-04-0-01 in front approaching the midway point in the first-half.

Boyle doubled her account in response and it was soon level pegging in Clones as Kate Flood converted a free and Niamh Rice conjured up her first score of the afternoon to make it 0-04-0-04 after nineteen minutes of play.

Antrim regained the lead through back to back points from youngster Lara Dahunsi – the second of which squeezed narrowly between the posts.

Though the Saffrons suffered a blow losing tenacious corner-back Orla Corr to the sin-bin for ten minutes approaching the break.

Louth made the most of their numerical advantage as back to back points from Lauren Boyle levelled at 0-06-0-06 with five minutes remaining.

The vital moment of the opening period arrived sixty seconds later as Louth hit the front for the first time – Niamh Rice rifling past Anna McCann to give her side a 1-06-0-06 lead.

Despite leading on the score front; Louth lost their numerical advantage as Ceire Nolan was sin-binned by referee Declan Callaghan two minutes before the break.

Cathy Carey and Caitlin Taggart (free) made it a one-point game approaching the midway whistle  – though two would separate the sides at the interval as Lauren Boyle converted a free to edge Louth 1-07-0-08 ahead .

Orla Corr’s reintroduction ensured it was Antrim who held  a numerical advantage and Cathy Carey converted an early second half free to close the gap to a point once more.

Louth were dealt a further blow, being reduced to thirteen players as Aoife Russell was sin-binned minutes before Ceire Nolan’s re-emergence.

Aoife Taggart levelled the game for the third time on the 35 minutes and before the half was out the lead would switch hands on the number of occasions.

Louth restored their slender lead ten minutes into the second-half through influential captain Kate Flood.

Cathy Carey levelled up through a converted free and midway through the half substitute Michelle Magee made an immediate impact – curling the ball over to give Antrim a 0-12-1-08 advantage.

Kate Flood levelled from a converted free within sixty seconds as the sides were tied level for a fifth time approaching the final ten minutes.

On 50 minutes Louth took a massive step towards victory as Lauren Boyle took off towards goal and rifled to the net to give the league table toppers as 2-09-0-12 lead.

Caitlin Taggart (free) responded with five minutes to go – though the Saffrons needed a goal and instead went into injury-time trailing by four points as Sinead Woods and Lauren Boyle split the posts to give their side a 2-11-0-13 advantage.

It looked as though it was going to be a familiar hard-luck story for the brave Saffrons – now in desperate need of a goal.

Maeve McCurdy shot over the bar but time was surely against Antrim – Louth goalkeeper Una Pearson kicked the ball out and time continued, in need of possession captain Saoirse Tennyson led by example and forced a turnover in the midfield.

The Saffrons went on one final attack and were rewarded as Mairead Cooper-as she did all afternoon got out in front of her marker and switched the ball to Michelle Magee whose pop off was gathered by Cathy Carey and the half-forward blasted to the net to salvage the most unlikeliest of draws at the end of an absorbing half as the game was level for a sixth time on a score line of 1-14-2-11.

Extra-time

Antrim began the first period of extra-time on the front foot and regained the lead for the first time since the 45th minute thanks to a converted Cathy Carey free.

Mairead Cooper conjured up a magnificent point to open her afternoons account and a further Carey free had the Saffrons three to the good.

Louth almost hit back and levelled but for an outstanding save from Anna McCann, the rebound was blocked and at the third time of asking; Niamh Rice shot over the bar a minute before the end of the first period – as Antrim led 1-17-2-12 at the halfway point in extra-time.

Cathy Carey added her third point of the additional period and the energetic Lara Dahunsi popped over in the immediate aftermath.

It was game set and match on the 74th minute as substitute Ciara Durnein attempt to fist the ball over the bar saw it crash off the post and Durnein got to the follow up and turned it past Una Pearson to give Antrim a 2-19-2-12 lead with little over five to play.

The emphasis of Antrim’s game was about to switch to keep-ball with the game firmly in their grasp – Eimear Byrne shot over the bar in response to Durnein’s strike.

Lara Dahunsi who scored three points for Antrim

Michelle Magee doubled her afternoon’s tally to restore the seven-point advantage with time fast running out.

Louth thought they had salvaged a late goal to set-up a grandstand finish as Eimear Byrne hand passed to the net – but after consulting with his umpires behind the goal; referee Callaghan correctly disallowed the consolation strike.

Niamh Rice would salvage the final score of the game but it had little impact of the final bearing as Antrim ran out 2-20-2-14 winners to make their third league final in six seasons.

It will be an all Ulster affair in two-weeks time as Fermanagh came up trumps against Limerick in today’s other semi-final.

Antrim: A McCann, N Killen, M Hanna, O Corr, K Farren, C Brown, S Tennyson (0-01), A McFarland, L Dahunsi (0-03), C Taggart (0-04, 0-03f), C Carey (1-07, 0-05f), SL McLaughlin, M Cooper (0-01), M McCurdy (0-01), A Taggart (0-01). Subs: M Magee (0-02) for SL McLaughlin  (39 mins), C Durnein (1-00) for A Taggart (52 mins), L Wallace for M McCurdy (65 mins).

Louth: U Pearson, S McLaughlin, S Quinn, E Hand, C Nolan, M McMahon, A Breen, R Carr, E Byrne (0-01), A Russell, S Byrne, S Woods, L Boyle (1-06, 0-01f), K Flood (0-03, 0-02f), N Rice (1-02). Subs: C Woods (0-02) for S Byrne (40 mins), M McGuinness for S Woods (67 mins), G Murray for E Hand (73 mins).

Referee: Declan Callaghan (Donegal)

McCormick and Boyd- a week to remember

When Tiernan McCormick and Sean Boyd sit down to read their personal scrap books in years to come the week leading up to Easter 2019 will surely figure prominently on their list of fondest memories.

Both lads were members of the St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass side who lifted the Antrim Feile Shield on Sunday evening at St. Enda’s where the South West champions defeated Davitt’s. The time and venue had been changed from a morning slot at Clooney because both boys were fighting in the Ulster Boxing finals that morning.

The winning instinct that epitomises both boys saw them win their respective titles but there was little time for celebration with the evening appointment at Hightown and another medal to add to the trophy cabinet.

The success story wasn’t finished however as both lads lined out for their college, St. Patrick’s Maghera in the D’Alton Cup final against St. Pat’s Cavan early this week with the Derry college recording a resounding win.

The Saffron Gael congratulate Tiernan and Sean and wishes them every success in the future!

Ahoghill book semi-final place

O’ Cahan Cup (quarter final)

St Mary’s Ahoghill 3-16 St James Aldergrove 0-13

A strong second half performance enabled St Mary’s Ahoghill to qualify for the semi-finals of the O’ Cahan Cup at the expense of a determined Aldergrove side on Wednesday evening at Cloney.

Nothing had separated the sides in the opening period in which the visitors were far far more proficient in front of the posts and with the short blast looming the Crumlin men had a two point advantage.

The home team had been off target for a lot of the first half but as it progressed the Cloney residents began to get it right and in the latter stages points by Donal Graham and James “Bobby” Magee ensured parity on the scoreboard (1-05 to 0-08) when the short whistle sounded.

Aldergrove did regain the lead less than a minute into the second half when Fergal Burke despatched between the posts but their lead was to prove short lived as the home side collected back to back goals courtesy of the Graham boys as firstly Diarmuid raised green in the 35th minute with his sibling Donal following suit a couple of minutes later.

Aldergrove were reduced in number shortly afterwards when wing half back Michael Brazier picked up a second yellow, and although the Crumlin men remained in touch for a time the home side with Martin Graham and Neil O’ Connell in control in the vital central zone, gradually upped the ante.

 The Cloney men with the fleet footed Bernard Graham, Eamon Brady, and Sean Mc Mahon leading the offensive during a last quarter dominance saw them pile on the pressure and by the end they had eased to a 3-16 to 0-13 winning advantage and a place in the semi-finals.

Ronan Hanna was first to score as his opening minute point got the Aldergrove scoring show on the road and although Diarmuid Graham brought the home side back on terms, Ahoghill were to spurn several chances to make addition before PJ O’ Connell got it right in the 11th minute. The ill-fated Seamus Mc Garry who was to limp out of proceedings shortly afterwards had given the visitors the lead with a similar score at the other end a few minutes earlier.

Ronan Hanna and PJ O’ Connell swapped points in the next minutes but as the home side continued in wasteful mode back to back whites raised in turn by mid-fielder James Trolan and Ronan Hanna saw the Crumlin lads deservedly go  a couple of points clear.

The home side having struggled to find a route to the posts, got it right in the 20th minute as the fleet footed Eamon Brady advanced in style to set up Aodhan Graham who finished stylishly to the back of the visitors’ net.

The St Mary’s side had moved ahead but it was not to last as a trio of unanswered points from wing backs Michael Brazier, and Chris Mc Veigh and Fergal Burke saw the visitors a couple clear as the short whistle drew close.

A foul on Eamon Brady opened the way for Donal Graham to send the resultant 35 metre award between the posts before the ever impressive Ronan Graham’s subtle delivery opened the way for James ‘bobby’ Magee to add another to ensure his side were on terms, 1-05 to 0-08 at the break.

Aldergrove started the second well as Fergal Burke despatched between the posts two minutes after the restart.

The home side were not to trail for long however and when James Magee sent Diarmuid Graham in for a goal, and Donal Graham added another just over a minute later they were in charge.

The Cloney men had moved into a 3-05 to 0-10 lead and although a Fergal Burke point at the other end cut the visitors arrears their task was made harder by losing a man to a second yellow card.

The Crumlin men were up against it but Paddy Nugent’s men were intent on giving it their all as they continued in search of scores. Ahoghill used the extra man well and with Martin Graham a tower of strength in the centre of defence  the Ahoghill men stood tall in defiance.

When Fergal Burke added a 46th minute point Aldergove  were within a score of the home side (3-06 to 0-12) but in the event this was as close as they were to get.

The St Mary’s men really turned on the style in the latter stages with and problems previously experienced in front of the posts but a painful memory. James Magee, Aodhan Graham, Eamon Brady, Diarmuid Graham, PJ O’ Connell and Gerard Graham all added points  to ease them over the winning line and into the O’ Cahan cup semi-final where they will cross swords with St Mary’s Rasharkin.

Referee C Mc Dermott (Tir na Nog)

Teams

Ahoghill

Francis Neeson, Bernard Graham, Sean Mc Mahon, Seamus Mc Cormick, Eamon Brady (0-01), Stephen O’ Connell, Diarmuid Graham (1-02), Neil O’ Connell (0-01), Martin Graham, PJ O’ Connell (0-04), Donal Graham (1-02), Patrick Graham, James Magee (0-03), Ronan Graham (0-02), Aodhan Graham (1-01)

Subs

Gerard Graham (0-01) for P Graham (inj)

Aldergrove

Chris Taggart, Paul Cushley, Stephen Gorman, Martin Mc Girr, Michael Brazier (0-01), Chris O’ Kane, Chris Mc Veigh (0-01), Ryan Owens, James Trolan, Oran Creaney, Seamus Mc Garry (0-01), Sean Fey, Fintan Burke (0-05), Ronan Hanna (0-03), Michael Smart

Subs

Anthony Brown for S Mc Garry (inj)

Michael Mc Carthy for M Smart

Creggan ride out late Casement’s push

O’Cahan Cup – Quarter-Final

Creggan 4-6 Portglenone 1-12

Wednesday April 17

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Chiceam

Holders Creggan advanced to the semi-finals of the O’Cahan Cup with a hard fought three point win over Portglenone on Wednesday evening.  The home sides ability to create and score goal chances proved to be the difference on the night with Mark Dougan, Conor Small and Sam Maguire adding the majors.  Small would top score for the Kickham’s men with 1-5 over the hour while Maguire was the unlikely hero by adding the first and fourth majors for his side.

Despite the concession of goals, Portglenone maintained a hunger and desire throughout the hour when it would have been easy for their heads to drop.  With Michael Hagan in superb form on the edge of the square they had a dangerous outlet while Fergal O’Kane and Niall McKeever dove tailed and complimented each other well in midfield. 

The home side proved to be more clinical when it mattered in the second half and despite the late onslaught from the Casements in the near impossible conditions at the end, Creggan held out to advance.

Both sides were guilty of squandering chances in a slow start to the contest with Ruairi McCann and Small firing the opening scores of the match for the home side with Portglenone’s response coming in the 12th minute thanks to Paddy Kelly’s first of five frees over the hour.

Pic by Brendan McTaggart

The first goal came in the 13th minute and it was started and finished by Maguire.  Collecting the ball close to the half way line, the Creggan defender instigated a flowing move before getting on the end of a deft flick from Mark Dougan and finishing beyond Ryan O’Neill.

Portglenone responded by controlling the next ten minutes with McKeever and O’Kane on top in midfield.  Ronan Kelly, Hagan (free) and Paddy Kelly (free) cancelled the Creggan goal by the 22nd minute before the home side found the back of the net once again.  Aidan McKeown playing an inch perfect diagonal ball to the edge of the square where Dougan lay in wait.  The Creggan full forward broke the ball to the path of Small and the Creggan ace marksman finished with aplomb.

The visitors responded once again and continued to look dangerous in attack.  A brace of white flags from Hagan and Kelly (free) brought Portglenone to within two points before they scored their goal in the first minute of injury time at the end of the first half.  O’Kane with a driving run through the heart of the Creggan defence created the opportunity and Hagan applied the finish after the Casment’s midfielder laid the chance on a plate for his team mate.

Creggan equalised with the last kick of the half, Small’s first of three frees over the hour leaving the match tied at the short whistle.

Half time score: Creggan 2-3 Portglenone 1-6

The visitors to Páirc Chiceam made a brighter start to the second half and held a two point lead by the third minute with Conall Delargy and a Paddy Kelly free edging them ahead.  Creggan opened their account after the interval with Small firing over a free in the 38th minute only for Hagan to open the two point advantage for Casements after strong work by Ryan Convery.

Creggan had the knack of scoring goals when they needed to and in the 40th minute Dougan landed their third.  Half time substitute Fintan Burke the instigator and Ruairi McCann with the assist as Creggan wrestled back the momentum.

A brace of frees from Hagan and Paddy Kelly edged Portglenone ahead once again before the home side fired their fourth major.  Maguire on hand to punch the ball to the back of the net after substitutes Fintan Burke and Dominc McAteer combined to create the chance for the home side.

Portglenone responded once again and but for the brilliance of Eunan McAteer, they should have had their second goal.  O’Kane with another bursting run, playing a neat one-two with McKeever before laying off to Ronan Kelly.  The Casement forward unleashed a fierce drive but McAteer heroically blocked his shot by diving at his feet to prevent what would have been a certain goal.

Paddy Kelly converted the resulting ’45  but that would be their last score of the match with still eight minutes remaining.  The home side managed a further two white flags with Small taking his tally to 1-5 for the match and while there was still time for another twist in what was an entertaining contest, Creggan by enlarge had a sense of control for the closing stages.

With tempers frayed, the home side were reduced to 14 men with Dougan receiving a red card for an unsavoury incident spotted by referee Eamon McAuley.  Portglenone pushed for the goal they would need to force a replay but the Creggan defence was resolute in the closing stages and the home side saw out the danger.  Creggan advance. TEAMS

Creggan: Oisin Kerr; Eunan McAteer, Ricky Johnston, Sam Maguire; Aidan McKeown, Jamie McCann, Ruairi McCann; Paddy McAuley, Dermot McCann; Matthew Rodgers, Tiarnan McAteer, Kealan McCann; Liam Quinn, Mark Dougan, Conor Small.

Scorers: Conor Small 1-5 (3 f’s); Sam Maguire 2-00; Mark Dougan 1-00; Ruairi McCann 0-1.

Portglenone: Ryan O’Neill; Ryan McGuigan, Johnny Convery, Ryan Convery; Paddy Graffin, Caolan Tierney, Michael Kelly; Niall McKeever, Fergal O’Kane; Conall Delargy, Ronan Kelly, Niall Delargy; Michael Hagan, Corey McLaughlin, Paddy Kelly.

Scorers: Michael Hagan 1-4 (2 f’s); Paddy Kelly 0-6 (5 f’s, 1 ’45); Conall Delargy 0-1; Ronan Kelly 0-1.

Referee: Eamon McAuley (Erins Own, Cargin)

Pics by Brendan McTaggart