Early goals cost Antrim dear in All-Ireland final

By Cóilín Duffy

Croke Park

All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Final

Wexford            2-12

Antrim            0-15

Antrim failed to emulate Offaly by winning All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie honours 12 months after a Junior success, as the Saffrons succumbed to a three-point defeat in Sunday’s decider at Croke Park.

Saffrons skipper Jane Adams bagged all bar two points of her sides tally, with Tir na nÓg’s Michaela Convery and Charlene Hamill of Loughgiel registering late scores from play, but this performance was not just about the O’Donovan Rossa player as a gritty unified display by Joe Baldwin’s charges just fell short at the finish.

A goal each from Ciara O’Connor and Fiona Rochford inside 60 seconds gave Wexford a strong platform to take the McGrath Cup as they led by 2-0 to 0-0 in the ninth minute.

“Goals win matches and they got off to a fantastic start, but the girls showed a never-say-die attitude and character to get it back to one score in the end. We had a couple of chances and right at the end we had a chance but it didn’t break our way,” Antrim boss  Baldwin said after the game.

“Jane (Adams) had a great game, but I thought that all the girls performed well.

“Aileen Martin had a phenomenal game at full-back, Coleen Doherty ran the legs off herself and Charlene Hamill had a strong performance as well so I am immensely proud of the girls.

“It’s up to us now to rebuild and use this experience and come back stronger, it was always going to be difficult to emulate what Offaly did.

“We had a lot of youth out there and this will stand by them, the future is bright for Antrim camogie and I truly believe this is only the start of things.”

Wexford really had Antrim on the rocks in the opening quarter with the  Leinster outfit claiming a 2-3 to 0-1 lead after 17 minutes, before five unanswered points from Adams cut the deficit to three points at the break on a 2-3 to 0-6 scoreline.

Adams took scores from all angles during this spell, including an excellent score from play in the 25th minute from between the 65 and 45 metre lines.

Adams was receiving good support play throughout the field at this stage, with the likes of St John’s duo Ashling Jackson and Rhona Torney, and Rossa defender Bronagh Orchin impressive.

Wexford added points from Rochford and Louise Codd inside three minutes of the restart. Antrim quickly cancelled out these scores from Adams, as Wexford got frustrated and conceded frees which Adams had no hesitation in slotting between the posts.

Wexford opened up a seven-point lead midway through the second half, but Antrim were strong with goalkeeper Mairead Graham deflecting a 39th minute penalty shot from Siona Nolan over the crossbar.

Nolan, corner-forward Linda Bolger and substitute Tracey Nolan were picking off fine scores with Wexford leading by 2-10 to 0-9 as the game entered the final quarter.

Adams drifted towards the middle sector as this game progressed, operating as a third midfielder, with Wexford full-back Bernie Holohan left alone inside.

This gave Wexford extra strength at the back, with Antrim creating little in terms of goal-scoring opportunities.

Clinical Adams continued to lead the way in the scoring stakes for Antrim reducing the deficit to five points with six and a half minutes remaining.

Half-forwards Michaela Convery and Charlene Hamill left the score at 2-12 to 0-15 in the 58th minute, with Antrim continuing to pile on pressure.

Antrim fought hard for an equalising goal, but a late Adams free in the second minute of injury time was cleared out, as Wexford held out to take a first title at this grade.

 

WEXFORD: Helena Jacob; Colleen Atkinson, Bernie Holohan, Frances Doran; Louise O’Leary, Áine Codd, Lisa Bolger; Shelly Kehoe, Siona Nolan (0-2, 1 pen); Louise Codd

(0-2), Bridget Curran, Stacey Redmond; Ciara O’Connor (1-3, 1f), Fiona Rochford (1-1), Linda Bolger (0-2). Subs: Tracey Nolan (0-2)

for Curran (42); Stacey Kehoe for Louise Codd (54).

 

ANTRIM: Mairead Graham; Cathy Carey, Aileen Martin, Ashling McCall; Bronagh Orchin, Emma Connolly, Ashling Jackson; Colleen Doherty, Rhona Torney; Michaela Convery (0-1), Natalie McGuinness, Charlene Hamill (0-1); Katie McAleese, Jane Adams (0-13, 7f, 2 ’45), Louise McAleese. Subs: Máiríosa McGourty for L McAleese (22); Orlagh O’Hara for K McAleese (35); Louise McMullan for A McCall (45); Orlagh McCall for Convery (58).

 

REFEREE: John Dolan (Clare)

 

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