Late flurry sinks Antrim
Littlewoods Ireland Division 2, Group 3
Antrim 2-5 Derry 4-7
Kilkenny 1-6 Dublin 1-2
WITH ten minutes to go at Cloughmills this game was very much in the balance. Indeed the balance might have been slightly in favour of Antrim given that they had held Derry scoreless for the previous 20 minutes despite facing into a gale force wind and the occasional snow flurries.
The Saffrons held a 2-4 to 1-4 lead with Lucia McNaughton’s 38thminute point the only score registered since the break. They were also carrying the game to Derry with McNaughton, Amy Boyle and Katie McAleese constantly available to relieve pressure from the defence in which Colleen Patterson was superb.
But it all unraveled for the home side in the 52nd minute. A monstrous free from Gráinne McNicholl 30 metres from her own goal-line went over the top of the Antrim defence for Gráinne McGoldrick to run on to and fire to the net.
The McNicholl sisters immediately added points as did Mary Hegarty in the 57th minute, a beauty from the sideline and a narrow angle.
Although Katie McAleese responded with a point from a 45, veteran Grainne McGoldrick stepped up to strike two more goals in injury time and secure a second successive win for Derry.
Overall this was an excellent game served up in trying conditions. Indeed each team played their best camogie against the elements and defenders excelled.
Mary Hegarty opened the scoring with a Derry point in the first minute, but from the poc out, Lucia McNaugton ran through for an Antrim goal to which Máiréad McNicholl responded with a fine angled point for the Oak Leaf.
However both teams were to squander openings and there were just two further points for wind-assisted Antrim and one from Gráinne McGoldrick up to the 25th minute when Amy Boyle raced through to score Antrim’s second goal.
However Derry quickly responded; Mary Hegarty stabbed home from close range and the teams turned over with Antrim to face the elements holding a narrow 2-3 to 1-4 lead.
That they increased their advantage and held on until the last few minutes indicates that they have recovered well from the Kilkenny defeat and are building solidly.
From the Derry perspective, they played very well against the elements during the first half but didn’t get going until the first of Gráinne McGoldrick’s three goals in the second. With three wins from three starts and only a game against bottom-placed Dublin left, the Oak Leaf are closing in on a semi-final place.
Antrim : C Graham, M Lynn, F McIntyre, C Patterson, C Boyle, L McKenna, M Connolly, N Donnelly capt, A Boyle (1-1), L McNaughton (1-1), K McAleese (0-1 free), C Conlon, N O’Neill, C Draine (0-1), V Edgar (0-1).
Subs : E Hynds for C Boyle (46).
Derry : N McQuillan, C Glass, K-M Hegarty, R Bradley, S Donaghy, M Kerr, T Bradley, D O’Kane, G McNicholl (0-2), A Devlin, Á McAllister, S Quinn, M McNicholl (0-2), M Hegarty (1-3), G McGoldrick (3-1)
Subs : J McGuckin for C Glass and R Cassidy for K-H Hegarty (both 48).
Referee : Paul Ryan (Kildare)