Antrim get back on track with five-goal salvo in extra-time

TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship 

Antrim 5-20- 2-13 Carlow 

Kevin Herron reports 

Having suffered defeat to Derry in their opening encounter Antrim had little margin for error when they met Carlow in Dunleer on Sunday afternoon and they eventually turned things around to boost their chances of claiming an All-Ireland semi-final spot with a 5-20-2-13 extra-time win. 

Despite trailing to a Cliodhna Ni She’s goal at the start of the second-half the Saffron ladies showed resilience to force an additional twenty minutes through points from substitute Caitlin Taggart and Theresa Mallon. 

Then in the first period of extra-time they blazed a trail of goals through Grainne McLaughlin, sisters Aoife and Caitlin Taggart and Theresa Mallon. 

Cathy Carey then added a fifth to secure a massive victory which puts Antrim right back in the reckoning for a semi-final spot. 

There were three changes to the Antrim squad from the Derry reversal eight days earlier. Maria Hanna, Thresea Mellon and Ellen Morgan were all brought into the starting fifteen at the expense of Niamh Enright, Meabh McCurdy and Caitlin Taggart. 

Carlow were first off, the mark in the Louth sunshine as Cliodhna Ni She combined with Dannah O’Brien who swung over the opening point. 

Cathy Carey was on-hand to reply from a free and Antrim forged ahead through an Ellen Morgan point after an off the shoulder pass. 

A goal opportunity went abegging for the Saffrons when Aine Tubridy found the run of Grainne McLaughlin whose shot dropped wide of the post. 

But points followed from Cathy Carey and Ellen Morgan as Antrim held a 0-04-0-01 lead in the early stages. 

Carlow hit back through a second converted free from Dannah O’Brien before Niamh Forde found her captain – Aoibhinn Gilmartin who conjured up a nice score. 

Points were traded between Grainne McLaughlin and Gilmartin a few minutes before Cliodhna Ni She converted a free to draw the sides level at 0-05 apiece. 

Antrim restored their slender advantage through a fantastic Aoife Taggart point after a neat interchange with Theresa Mellon. 

Carlow had the chance to edge in front for the second time on 24 minutes when Ni She went to ground and referee David Hurson outstretched his arms and signalled for a penalty. 

Dannah O’Brien stepped up and saw her effort clip the post, but she converted a free in the immediate aftermath to restore parity. 

O’Brien kicked a fantastic point to bring her personal tally to 0-04 and nudge her side back in front. 

However, the topsy-turvy encounter was evenly balanced once more after Cathy Carey played a long ball to Grainne McLaughlin who steered the ball to Ellen Morgan for her third score of the half. 

Almost instantly the Saffrons had the chance to hit the front again through a converted free and Cathy Carey obliged for the third time. 

That lead was extended before the break as Emma Ferran picked out Theresa Mellon who offloaded to Grainne McLaughlin for a point which moved her side into a 0-09-0-07 lead at the midway point in proceedings. 

Antrim almost had a perfect to the second half when Aoife Taggart was slipped through by Ellen Morgan and Nicola Hanley made a fine stop to deny Taggart. 

It was a chance they would rue as Carlow made no mistake with a similar opportunity at the other end. 

Cliodhna Ni She linked-up fantastically with substitute Sara Doyle before thundering a low shot past Anna McCann to give her side a 1-07-0-09 lead. 

Ni She then popped over her second point in the aftermath and played in role in an opportunity that almost led to a second goal on 41 minutes. 

It was a roles reversal of the first as Ni She threaded the ball through for Sara Doyle whose shot crashed off the underside of the bar and out to safety. 

Anna McCann gifted Carlow another glorious goal chance with a stray pass to Ni She- who took off towards the net and was stopped in her tracks in the nick of time by Orla Corr. 

Aoife Taggart hit her sides opening point of the second period on 52 minutes in a move that involved sister Caitlin- who was sprung from the bench. 

A fourth goal opportunity presented itself for Carlow with Niamh Forde closing in on goal, though the midfielder dragged her low effort off target. 

Antrim pulled level on 56 when Grainne McLaughlin swung over a fine point from Emma Ferran’s through ball. 

Sara Doyle instantly responded and restored Carlow’s lead after showing a fine burst of pace and conjuring the score. 

Substitute Caitlin Taggart took a hoisted pass from Grainne McLaughlin and drew the sides level as time ticked towards the conclusion. 

It looked as though Carlow had got the job done when back-to-back frees from Cliodhna Ni She and Dannah O’Brien moved their side 1-11-0-12 up four minutes into time added on. 

But the Saffrons displayed a never-say-die attitude and just as it looked as though the game as gone and back-to-back defeats were on the cards- they levelled. 

The combination of Ferran and Taggart combined for the second time and Thresea Mellon added a point under extreme pressure to draw the sides level at 1-11-0-14 and ensure that extra-time would be required. 


Carlow started extra-time brighter and led through a third converted free of the contest by Cliodhna Ni She. 

But sixty seconds later the pendulum swung back into Antrim’s favour, Thresea Mellon saw her shot partially parried to safety by Nicola Hanley – and Grainne McLaughlin followed in and palmed to the net from close range to give her side a 1-14-1-12 lead. 

Aoife Taggart swung over her second point of the afternoon and then added a goal from a turnover by Duana Coleman that was slipped into her path and Taggart made no mistake with a low finish to the net. 

Things soon went from bad to worse as Hanley’s quick kick-out was turned over and Cathy Carey fed the ball to Caitlin Taggart who blasted to the net to make it 3-15-1-12 and suddenly the game appeared to be over as a contest. 

Aoife Taggart added her second point of the extra-time period before Antrim hit the net for the fourth time inside of eight minutes of the first period. A free from Cathy Carey dropped short and Theresa Mellon nipped in and found the net. 

A point followed in reply from Niamh Kelly but Antrim were in complete control of proceedings and 4-16-1-13 ahead with another period of extra-time remaining. 

Carlow were awarded their second penalty of the game two minutes into the second period when Anna McCann brought Niamh Murphy to ground- referee Hurson consulted with his umpires but decided against taking any further action against McCann. 

Keeper Nicola Hanley came forward and confidently tucked her effort past counterpart McCann- though it appeared to be little more than scant consolation with seven minutes remaining and a nine-point swing needed. 

Caitlin Taggart added to her goal and point after nice work from Cathy Carey and the duo combined for the next score. Taggart went short with a free to Carey and popped the ball over after the return from the St Ergnat’s forward. 

Taggart converted a further free before adding her last point from play and with almost the last action of the game a fifth goal arrived. 

Cathy Carey would profit from an unselfish Caitlin Taggart pass and rounded Hanley to finish of the scoring and wrap up a 5-20-2-13 win for her side- a win that gets them back in the race for an All-Ireland semi-final spot. 

Antrim: A McCann, N McIntosh, O Corr, N Webb, A McFarland, M Blaney, A Tubridy, E Ferran, C Brown, M Hanna, C Carey (1-03, 0-02f), G McLaughlin (1-03), A Taggart (1-03), T Mellon (1-02), E Morgan (0-02) Subs:D Coleman for M Hanna (43), C Taggart (1-06, 0-01f) for E Morgan (48), C Stewart for C Brown (60) , M Mitchell for G McLaughlin (70), E Murphy for A Taggart (70), J Curran for T Mellon (78). 

Carlow: N Hanley, O Fitzpatrick, A Dooley, R Bermingham, M Dermody, E Atkinson, N Murphy, C O’Neill, N Forde, N Kelly (0-01), A Gilmartin (0-02), M Kinsella, D O’Brien (0-05, 0-03f), C Ni She (1-04, 0-03f), N Mohan. Subs: K Collins for M Dermody (24), S Doyle (0-01) for N Kelly (32), A Dowling for A Gilmartin (46), C Redmond for M Kinsella (46). 

Referee: David Hurson (Monaghan)

Antrim are Ulster Junior Champions after final win over Derry

TG4 Ulster Junior Football Championship Final 

Antrim 4-17- 0-08 Derry 

Kevin Herron reports from Davitt Park 

Antrim hit 1-08 without reply in a blistering second half display to defeat neighbours Derry in this evenings TG4 Ulster Ulster Junior Ladies Final at Davitt Park.

Goals from Cathy Carey and Meabh McCurdy proved the difference at the break as Antrim led 2-03-0-06 against a Derry side that needed to rely on their free taking to keep in touch.

But the Saffrons stepped up the gears in the second period and further strikes from Caitlin Taggart and Thresea Mallon along with some excellent points in-between saw the hosts make it back-to-back junior successes.

The scene was set for the Ulster neighbours to contest the first junior final in two years- after Covid prevented a decider last year and Davitt Park was a fantastic host venue.

Antrim settled quickest and hit the front inside of sixty seconds. Ciara Brown and Emma Ferran worked the ball into the path of Grainne McLaughlin who picked out Cathy Carey for the opening point.

They increased their advantage through a converted Caitlin Taggart free and Taggart notched up a point from play shortly after- thanks to some nice interchange from Meabh McCurdy.

Derry hit back when Deirbhle McNicholl was fouled and converted the resulting free, moments after Brenna O’Loughlin had missed from a similar position.

The opening goal arrived after eight minutes, Grainne McLaughlIn’s shot seemed to be initially dealt with by Derry keeper Louise Gunn, but the ball spilt, and Cathy Carey stabbed home from close range to give her side a 1-03-0-01 lead.

Deirbhle McNicholl converted a free in response and the Oak Leaf girls had their third courtesy of McNicholl who swung over from play.

The visitors closed the gap to two-points after Brenna O’Loughlin was fouled and she converted the resulting free.

In the aftermath of the first half water break the Saffrons had their second goal.

On 17 minutes Aine Tubridy ran onto a neat interchange with Ciara Brown and picked out Meabh McCurdy whose high shot dropped into the corner of the net past Gunn to make it 2-03-0-04.

Derry ended the half on the front foot with Ella Rose Sainsbury charging forward and directing her shot between the posts and a converted Lead McGonagle free ensured that just three points separated the sides at the interval (2-03-0-06).

Antrim started the second period brightly with three points on the spin from substitute Theresa Mallon, a Meabh McCurdy point from Aine Tubridy’s slipped pass and an Aoife Taggart score from in-front of the posts.

Back-to-back frees were converted by Cathy Carey and Grainne McLaughlin swung over a terrific point a few minutes later.

The hosts were well on top and Meabh McCurdy split the posts for her second point and from the resulting kick out the hungry hosts had their third goal of the evening.

Cathy Carey read Louise Gunn’s kick-out and switched it to Aoife Taggart who quickly found sister Caitlin in space and Caitlin slipped the ball low to the net to make it 3-10-0-06.

Carey popped over her third of the half to make it 1-08 unanswered with Derry replying through their fourth free taker of the afternoon- substitute Emma Doherty.

But Antrim responded with another three scores in succession. Aine Tubridy burst forward and shot over with Caitlin Taggart and Theresa Mallon picking off further points between the water break. 

Derry almost had a lifeline when Ciara McGurk went through on goal- but Anna McCann made herself big and turned away McGurk’s goal-bound effort.

Cathy Carey extended the lead at the another over and Antrim found their fourth goal of the evening, after turning Derry over coming out of defence Theresa Mallon shot low to the net to make it 4-15-0-08.

A fifth may have followed but Louis Gunn was equal to Meave McCurdy’s shot as the full forward was denied her second goal.

Deirbhle McNicholl (free) and Meabh McCurdy traded points and the last score was a well taken Grainne McLaughlin point as Antrim ran out 4-17-0-08 winners to make it sucessive Ulster Junior successes. 

Antrim: A McCann, N McIntosh, O Corr, R Hemsworth, A McFarland, M Blaney, A Tubridy (0-01), E Ferran, C Brown, N Enright, C Carey (1-05, 0-02f), G McLaughlin (0-02), A Taggart (0-01), M McCurdy (1-03) C Taggart (1-03,0-01f). Subs: N Webb for R Hemsworth (16), T Mallon (1-02) for O Corr (21), E Morgan for A Taggart (45), C Stewart for A Tubridy (51), N Coleman for C Taggart (54).

Derry: L Gunn, N Brown, A McGough, G Conway, A Frizzelle, D Kivlehan, C Kirkpatrick, A McAllister, R McAllister, C McGurk, E-Rose Sainsbury (0-01), E Doherty, B O Loughlin (0-01f), D McNicholl (0-04, 0-02f), L McGonagle (0-01f). Subs: E Doherty (0-01f) for L McGonigle (35), K Lynn for E Doherty (45), C Moore for B O’Loughlin (48), B McMullan for C Kirkpatrick (48), A O’Loughlin for A Frizzelle (48).

Referee: Kieran McKeever (Armagh)

Derry Girls out for revenge but Antrim can take the title

It has only been several weeks since the Saffrons last met Derry in the Lidl Division 4 league clash, where they came out convincing winners on a 5-10 to 3-4 scoreline. 
This weekend, however, the pair will be battling it out for neighbourly bragging rights in the Ulster Junior Championship Final. 
Oakleaf management, Benny Marron and Odhran McNeilly, both have experience in the Antrim club scene with Moneyglass and will almost certainly have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to tactics and game management. 

However, the Saffron duo of Emma Kelly and Kyla Trainor have represented their counties for decades between them and know exactly what it takes to get over the line in championship. 
With a few injury concerns in the Antrim camp, there are likely to be changes to the starting line up, however a big boost for the team is the return of vice captain, Grainne McLaughlin, who missed the whole league campaign through injury. 
Antrim are certainly going into the game as the bookies favourites, but even an ounce of complacency from the Saffron side would be erroneous as the Derry girls plot revenge. 

For the members of Davitt’s GAC this is a big occassion, hosting and Ulster final for the first time. The club have put an awful lot of work into building this great facility and it will be an ideal venue for this game. The Derry girls are coming looking for revenge, but Antrim will be keen to show that they were deserving winners last time out.
All roads lead to Davitt’s Park on Saturday evening, where we could have a very interesting game on our hands!

Saffrons defeated by classy Louth

Lidl Ladies National Football League Division Four

Antrim 0-06 Louth 3-11

From Kevin Herron at the Dub

Antrim fell to their second league defeat as last years All-Ireland junior champions Louth showed their promotion credentials with a 3-11-0-06 victory at the Dub this afternoon.

The hosts were second best in the opening half and were dealt a blow with the temporary loss of Aine Tubridy and Louth took full advantage with Lauren Boyle hitting the net in a dominant thirty minute display.

Dee McConville’s side showed some improvement after the break but further goals from Boyle and substitute Aimee McNally ensured that Louth would run out with a bit to spare at the end.

The visitors made a bright start to proceedings and hit the opening score through Lauren Boyle and fellow corner-forward Rebecca Carr doubled their advantage.

Aoife Taggart’s free dropped short in the aftermath and Nikki Jones was on-hand to ensure a point was forthcoming for the Saffrons.

Antrim were then dealt a set-back when captain Aine Tubridy was booked and subsequently sin-binned for an innocuous coming together – referee Gavin Finnegan felt Tubridy was guilty of charging and the hosts were reduced to 14-players for ten minutes.

In that time Louth tagged on further points from Boyle, Niamh Rice (free) and Rebecca Carr, they may also have had a goal – but Anna McCann produced a magnificent stop to deny Niamh Rice.

Five minutes before the break the opening goal did fall for Louth as Lauren Boyle got onto the end of a popped pass from Louise Byrne and guided the ball past McCann to make it 1-05-0-01.

Boyle quickly added another point in the immediate aftermath and a perfectly angled point from captain Aoife Byrne; in-between scores from namesake Eimear- ensured that their side led 1-09-0-01 at the interval.

Niamh Rice doubled her account with a score inside the first sixty seconds of the restart and Aoife Taggart responded from a free in front of the posts.

Further scores were traded between Lauren Boyle and Aine Tubridy before substitute Abi Carleton made her mark with an intelligent point.

Aine Breen squeezed the ball over at the near post in reply to Carleton’s point with a double from corner-forward Ellen Morgan levelling the second-half scoreline.

Anna McCann produced another magnificent stop to deny Alannah McLoughlin late-on but the Saffrons keeper was left helpless soon after as Aimee McNally collected a long-balls and rounded McCann before steering the ball home to give Louth a 3-11-0-06 victory at the conclusion.

Antrim: A McCann, L Wallace, E Kelly, N Killen, N Webb, O Corr, G Shannon, L Dahunsi, A Tubridy (0-01), G D O’Reilly, A Taggart (0-01f), M McGarry, E Morgan (0-02), N Jones (0-01), E Rocks. Subs: A Carleton (0-01) for E Rocks (HT); N McKeown for E Kelly (39); L O’Neill for D O’Reilly (51); R Hemsworth for N Killen (56).

Louth: U Pearson, E Hand, C Donnelly, H Lambe-Sally, A Halligan, S McLoughlin, C Nolan, A Breen (0-01), A Byrne (0-01), L Byrne, E Byrne (0-02), N Rice (0-02, 0-01f), R Carr (0-02), A Russell, L Boyle (2-03). Subs: S Matthews for E Hand; S Quinn for C Donnelly; G Murray for H Lambe-Sally; R Kavanagh for A Halligan; E Murray for C Nolan; G Trainor for A Breen; C Quinn for E Byrne; E Norton for N Rice; A McNally (1-00) for R Carr; A McLoughlin for L Boyle.

Referee: Gavin Finnegan (Down)

McQuillan’s GAC Awards Dinner