ANTRIM ADD ULSTER TITLE TO ALL IRELAND CROWN
NWP Ulster Minor Championship Cup Final
Down 2-8 Antrim 11-18
Despite not being able to begin with four of their starting All-Ireland
winning team of three weeks ago because of injury and examinations,
Antrim easily retained their NWP Ulster minor championship title in
Portaferry on Sunday.
While Down hit a good run of play midway through the second half scoring
an unanswered 1-4 inside a ten minute spell, the visitors were at times
breathtakingly brilliant, stringing together some sublime passing
movements and executing scores that drew applause even from the home
Player of the match was half-forward Emily Falloon, whose fielding and
movement had people gasping throughout the match but particularly during
the opening half when she notched 1-4. She was closely followed by Amy
Boyle and diminutive corner-forward Caoimhe Wright, both of whom were
withdrawn early in the second half while 16-year-old Saoirse Sands could
illuminate the future for Down.
Antrim team manager Sean Paul McKillop revealed after the game that
three of panel hadn’t travelled because of exams.
"Some have exams tomorrow and couldn’t afford the time today. I have
complained about the timing of the competition before, but what was
really annoying was the fact that we had to travel to both semi-final
and final, while Down had home games at both stages. How does that work?
"I know Down suffered because of exams as well, but all year we have had
not just a strong team, but also a strong panel and that was true again
when we brought on the five substitutes in the second half.”
Those five subs contributed a total of 5-4 with Maeve Kelly, Rebecca
Hargan and Áine Devlin shooting goals each in the last two minutes to
finish off a brilliant team performance.
Down actually opened the scoring with a point from Aoife McDowell and
only conceded three points in the first ten minutes.
Caoimhe Wright’s 10th minute goal however opened the floodgates and five
of the six starting forwards hit the net as Antrim moved into a 5-11 to
1-3 interval lead, Down’s major coming from Andrea McKillop in injury
Charley McCarry scored the second goal after 14 minutes after good work
from Áine Donnelly and Charley was involved in the third providing the
link for Amy Boyle and setting up Emily Falloon with a beautiful 30
metre cross-field pass in the 16th minute.
The last two Antrim goals of a fine opening half came from Finvola
McVeigh and Áine Donnelly in the 27th and 28th minutes, although the
best move of the match involving five or six players was put wide by
Caoimhe Wright after being put through one-on-one with the Down goalie.
Áine Donnelly scored her second and sub Áine Devlin a seventh goal
before Down’s purple patch, sparked by a goal from Lauren Clarke in the
41st minute after Saoirse Sands had forced a save from Caitriona Graham
in the Antrim goals.
Down brought their total to a respectable 2-7 in the 48th minute before
a sublime finish from Roisin McCormick sparked the final onslaught from
the Saffrons, who have now collected three provincial and two national
titles with this squad since the start of 2016.
Sean Paul McKillop was of course pleased with the result.
"We showed today just how good we can play. We started training in
November and our aim was to remain undefeated through the Ulster and
All-Ireland championships. We have done that.”
"We now move up to represent Antrim in the Ulster Intermediate
championship against adult reserve teams. Last year because of exams and
holidays we needed to bring in a couple of adults and we managed to win
the Intermediate. I and the rest of the management team would like to
push on with this squad (and no extras) to retain that title.”
Antrim : Caitriona Graham, Sian McNeill, Katie Lynn capt., Méabh
O’Neill, Catherine McShane, Cliodhna Donnelly, Ellen Hynds, Amy Boyle,
Caoimhe Conlon, Finvola McVeigh 1-3, Emily Falloon 1-4, Anna Connolly,
Caoimhe Wright 1-4, 0-1 free, Áine Donnelly 2-0, Charley McCarry 1-3.
Subs : Áine Devlin 2-2 for C Wright (33), Róisín McCormick 1-1 for A
Boyle (33), Kirsty Laverty for E Hynds (35), Rebecca Hargan 1-0 for C
McCarry (38), Maeve Kelly 1-1 for Á Donnelly (41), Méadhbh McCormick injured, Kirsty McKendry injured, Bronagh Devlin injured, Caoimhe McNeice, Torie Edgar, Siobhan
Down : B Dempster, R McKegney, H Dorrian, E Gallagher, M Derry, K
McGilligan, A Woods, L Clarke 1-1, F Toner, A McKillop 1-0, B Savage 0-1
free, S Sands 0-4, 0-1 free, M Devlin, A McDowell, C McConnell 0-1.
Subs : S Malone for E Gallagher (25), N Fitzgerald for M Devlin (35), C
Clarke 0-1 for C McConnell (39), K Hughes for M Derry (46).
Referee : Eamon Cassidy (Derry)