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Antrim ladies show grit and determination to defeat Limerick

Antrim ladies 2-14 – 3-07 Limerick ladies


Antrim ladies showed great determination as they ground out a hard earned four point win against Limerick at the Dub on Saturday afternoon. Despite twice racing into a six point lead Limerick showed a never say die attitude to level, but at the end Antrim’s determination and will to win shone through as they claimed three points that could be crucial at the end of the league campaign as they push for a place in the promotion play offs.   Coming off the back of an impressive win last time out against Louth at Drogheda, Antrim knew that in order to stand any chance of finishing in the top four of the league they must at least avoid defeat against an impressive Limerick side who sat joint second in the league. The visitors arrived in South Belfast knowing that a win would all but secure their spot in the division four semi-finals.

Antrim began brightest on a cold afternoon and hit the front after less than 60 seconds when half forward Clare Timoney turned well and put the ball between the posts to give the hosts a one point lead.  From Martina Giltenane’s resulting kick out Antrim won possession and soon the ball found its way to Anna Finnegan who doubled the advantage with a fine score. With only three minutes on the clock the lead was soon extended to three points, this time Kirsty McGuiness, who was so influential against Louth, once again demonstrated her accuracy landing a fine point. Limerick struggled to get a foothold in the game and Antrim showed no signs of letting up as they continued to add to their advantage through Mairiosa McGourty. The St Galls star combined well with Mairead Cooper to grab a fine score; before both linked up again shortly after with Cooper drawing a fine save from Martina Giltenane, though McGourty was on hand to turn the loose ball over the bar and increase Antrim’s lead to five points. Things showed no signs of getting better for the Munster side as the referee awarded a free, which Kirsty McGuiness converted as Antrim lead by six points approaching the mid-way point of the first half.

Despite the incredibly slow start from Limerick they eventually opened their account on 16 minutes, with Claire O’Riordan somehow able to break the resilence of the Antrim defence to fire over the bar. This was quickly followed up by a Mai Keanelly point to put four between the sides 0-06-0-02 as Limerick demonstrated the danger within their ranks. With less than ten minutes of the first half remaining Limerick turned the game on its head; Shauna McAuliffe was able to find a gap in the Antrim defence and exploited it blasting the ball home past Ciara McCoy to put a single point between the sides 0-06-1-02. The Shannonsiders were soon level for the first time when Dymphna O’Brien turned the ball over the bar, and Antrim’s lead from an industrious first quarter was wiped out. The half ended quite evenly; Kirsty McGuiness restored Antrim’s lead with their first point in over ten minutes of play, before Dymphna O’Brien levelled. Wing half forward McGuiness would add a further two points before the break; the first coming through a free after Mairiosa McGourty was upended, before combining with Mairead Cooper for the second. Limerick ensured the gap would be one point at the break with a fine score through Eimear Ryan as both sides went in at the break with the score 0-09-1-05.

The second half began with both sides cancelling each other out, but five minutes in a foul on Mairead Cooper in the area resulted in the referee signalling for a penalty. Kirsty McGuiness who had converted penalties in the previous two league games took responsibility and coolly fired the ball beyond Martina Giltenane to give Antrim a four point lead and some breathing space 1-09-1-05. A free from Dymphna O’Brien temporarily reduced the deficit to three points, before a foul on Mairead Cooper lead to Kirsty McGuiness converting to restore the four point lead. Claire O’Riordan again cut the gap to three points, but from the next attack Antrim were about to take a massive step towards victory. Ciara McCoy’s kick out was well gathered around the centre of the field and the ball was sent forward to Kirsty McGuiness who gathered herself before firing underneath to Martina Giltenane to put Antrim six points in front 2-10-1-07 with under fifteen minutes to go.

Having already over turned a six point deficit in the first half Limerick went about trying to replicate that; they found some hope with 13 minutes to go when Dymphna O’Brien’s shot deceived Ciara McCoy and found its way into the corner of the net to put three between the sides 2-10 to 2-07. Antrim needed to steady the ship, but instead things took a turn for the worse. Limerick gathered the loose ball from Ciara McCoy’s kick out and went on the attack once more, sensing a goal was on Eimear Ryan pulled the trigger and to great effect as the ball sailed over Ciara McCoy and into the back of the net to level the game with over ten minutes still to play 2-10-3-07. Although the visitors began to lose their discipline as Antrim took advantage. Mairiosa McGourty restored Antrim’s lead after a driving run from the corner forward finished with a great effort going over the bar. Mairead Cooper then went close to grabbing a third goal for Antrim, only for Martina Giltenane to get fingertips to the ball and turn it against the crossbar and over for a point to give the hosts a two point lead.

With time running out and Antrim looking to add to their advantage Limerick’s defence were guilty of making the wrong choices, with a number of costly fouls within scoring range. Mairead Cooper was adjudged to have been illegally fouled inside the 21 and from the resulting free Clare Timoney was accurate to put three between the sides, before adding a second minutes later from around the same area after Kirsty McGuiness was fouled. To add to Limerick’s mounting problems late on Claire O’Riordan was shown a yellow card and sin binned, which became a red card after some dissent ending any chance of a third Limerick comeback. The final whistle sounded shortly after to confirm an impressive Antrim victory over their promotion rivals. Brian Coyle will have been happy with aspects of the sides play especially their character in recovering from set-backs and will hope that they can show the same character in their final two league games against Derry and Roscommon.


Antrim team: Ciara McCoy, Nicole Rafferty, Emma Kelly, Niamhin Cooper, Aine Tubridy, Nicole Kelly, Maebhdh Laverty, Gerardine McGinley, Catherine Mullan, Kirsty McGuiness, Clare Timoney, Cathy Carey, Mairiosa McGourty, Anna Finnegan, Mairead Cooper. Subs: Niamh Adams, Aoife McAteer, Abi Carleton, Amy McAtamney, Rebecca Hemsworth, Helen Ward.

Limerick team: Martina Giltenane, Aoife Mecney, Alva Neary, Janet Garvey, Emma McGuire, Yvete Moynihan, Orla Gilternew, Kathy Foley, Niamh Richardson, Michelle Norris, Claire O’Riordan, Eimear Ryan, Mai Keanelly, Shauna McAuliffe, Dymphna O’Brien.


By Kevin Herron

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