All Ireland Minor `B` Final preview Antrim V Kildare
All-Ireland Minor B championship final
Saturday 2pm in Inniskeen
Antrim v Kildare
It’s not too often Antrim appears in an All-Ireland final; and rarer still that the final is held in Ulster.
However this Saturday (22nd April) that is exactly what is happening in Inniskeen in Monaghan when the Saffrons are attempting to win only their second All-Ireland Minor B championship title, a decade on from their first.
In the interim, the Saffrons have lost two finals (2010 and 2011 to Derry and Limerick) and seen titles go to both Derry and Down. However this season there is huge expectation that the ten year wait is over.
More than half the current team won the All-Ireland Minor Shield and Ulster Minor championship titles last year, before going on to eclipse the provincial Intermediate title during the summer.
As a result, Clíodhna Donnelly and Áine Devlin were selected respectively as Ulster Minor and Intermediate Players of 2016.
Both players have been in sterling form this season, Cliodhna at centre-half back and Áine at wing-forward as the team has clocked up four straight wins, scoring 15 goals and 70 points, while conceding just 7-21.
Áine has accounted for 1-20 of that, but is only third in line of top-scorers behind Caoimhe Wright’s 3-25 and Charley McCarry’s 5-11.
Last year, Áine’s twin Bronagh and Cliodhna’s twin Áine were key team members of the team, but both have picked up serious leg injuries during this campaign and missed the 4-19 to 3-6 win over Laois in the semi-final a fortnight ago.
Neither last year’s top-scorer Torie Edgar nor Dunloy’s Caoimhe Conlon have seen much action because of injuries before the start of the championship in February, but team manager Sean Paul McKillop believes that the injury-list has strengthened, rather than weakened, the team :
"Our panel has been stretched during the competition through injuries to players that we would have considered key to the team at the start of the competition.
"But it has given everyone in the panel an opportunity to play at this level and a number of them have come through quickly to claim places. That has been a big positive – there is genuine competition for places on the team and it is pushing everything on.
"Having said that, we only had 18 players available against Westmeath and we struggled to get going during that match. They scored the first four points and there wasn’t more than a goal between the sides throughout. But the girls dug deep and showed a lot of character.”
That was the second game after an easy opener against Down and Antrim eventually won in Mullingar by 3-11 to 2-10 and went on to beat Meath to qualify for the semi-final against Laois.
"I think our character and strength in depth have come out well in the last two games, when we played an even enough first half and then pulled away after half-time. Substitutes have been coming in to make a difference.”
Kildare are their opponents in the final, but Sean Paul admits that he knows little about them.
"We know nothing about Kildare, other than that they are, like ourselves, unbeaten. They beat Meath in their semi-final at the same time as we were beating Laois, so there was no chance to see them in action.
"We have to concentrate on ourselves. We are a good team, we have been preparing well since before Christmas and our aim is to be unbeaten all season.”
There are eight clubs represented in the panel, which is captained by Ahoghill goalkeeper and triple Ulster Schools’ All-star Caitriona Graham:
Ahoghill :Caitriona Graham,
Ballycastle : Catherine McShane, Cliodhna Donnelly, Caoimhe Wright, Maeve Kelly, Méabh O’Neill, Aine Donnelly.
Brídíní Óga Glenravel: Sian McNeill, Kirsty Laverty, Ellen Hynds, Torie Edgar
Dunloy : Caoimhe Conlon
Cushendall Ruairí Óg: Siobhán McKillop
Loughgiel : Katie Lynn, Amy Boyle, Méadhbh McCormick, Charley McCarry, Róisín McCormick, Finvola McVeigh, Rebecca Hargan, Kirsty McKendry, Anna Connolly.
Rossa : Caoimhe McNeice
Tír na nÓg: Aine Devlin, Emily Falloon, Bronagh Devlin.
Scorelines and scorers from the qualification matches :
Saturday 25th February
Antrim 4-23 Down 0-0
Antrim : Ellen Hynds 1-0, Caoimhe McNeice 0-1, Aine Devlin 0-6, 0-5 frees, Siobhan McKillop 0-3, Emily Falloon 0-1, Caoimhe Wright 0-8, Charley McCarry 2-2, Anna Connolly 0-1, Finvola McVeigh 1-1
Saturday 11th March
Westmeath 2-10 Antrim 3-11
Antrim : Áine Devlin 1-5, 0-2 frees, Siobhan McKillop 1-0, Emily Falloon 1-0, Caoimhe Wright 0-2, Méadhbh McCormick 0-1, Charley McCarry 0-3, 0-1 free.
Saturday 1st April
Antrim 4-17 Meath 2-5
Antrim : Aine Devlin 0-4, 0-3 frees, Siobhan McKillop 0-1, Caoimhe Wright 1-6, 0-2 frees, Méadhbh McCormick 2-1, Charley McCarry 1-5.
Sunday 8th April
All-Ireland Minor championship semi-final
Antrim 4-19 Laois 3-6
Antrim : Aine Devlin 0-5, 0-3 frees, Emily Falloon 0-2, Caoimhe Wright 2-9, Charley McCarry 2-1, Róisín McCormick 0-2.
The winning Antrim team from 2007 final (Managed by present senior County Manager Aidan McKeown)
Antrim 3-18 Down 5-3
Antrim : Shaunie McAuley, Caitriona Hasson, Roisin O'Boyle, Brianna McDonnell capt, Sinéad Laverty, Emma Connolly, Sarah McNicholl, Claire Laverty, Shannon Graham 0-3, Joanne Campbell 0-2, Micheala Convery 0-1, Racquel McCarry 2-4, 0-2 frees, Orla McCall 0-2, Louise McAleese 0-4, Cathy Carey 1-1.
Subs : Emma McMullan 0-1 for C Carey (37), Katie McAleese for O McCaul (51), Louise McKeown for C Laverty (60), Aileen Martin, Eleanor Mallon, Selena McKillen, Helen Wilson, Eimear Donaghy, Julie McFerran, Aine Connolly.