Antrim turn on the style to capture All-Ireland U-16 C title

All-Ireland U-16 C Championship

Antrim 3-12

Clare 1-6

By Eoin Brennan

Nothing was going to stop Antrim from securing a historic first ever All-Ireland U-16 C title in Conneff Park in Clane.

Such was their determination that they remarkably brushed off an early sending off and even being reduced to 13 players in the second period to remain in full control of this decider and run out convincing winners.

An impressive attacking unit comprising of chief targets Erin Stewart and Katie McCloskey, the tireless work-rate of Mia Dembele Mills and Hanna Donaghy and flanked by wing-forwards Leah Stewart and Aoibheann Monaghan were worth the admission fee alone as Antrim scored to new heights following a ninth minute red card for full-back Jodie Peoples.

Already facing into a strong wind, it forced Antrim to up the ante, with superb solo goals for Stewart and McCloskey by the 18th minute settling them into their stride on their way to a 2-7 to 0-4 interval advantage.

Despite now welcoming the conditions, Antrim had to dig deep once more when captain Nicole Munce was sinbinned by the two-thirds mark. However, what they lacked in numbers, the Ulster side more than made up for in character, skill and movement to actually outscore the Banner once more.

Clare goalkeeper Niamh O’Loughlin excellently repelled efforts from McCloskey and Dembele Mills while the former also struck the crossbar before the elusive Stewart grabbed her second goal of the afternoon to cap off a 1-4 unanswered rally.

Even when emptying the bench, Antrim impressively kept their foot on the gas including missed goal chances for replacements Anna McGarry and Lisa Wilson as they carved out a 16 point cushion.

To their credit, Munster champions Clare never dropped their heads, with Sophie Culleton, Eimear Burke, Abbie Cahill, Abi Kelly, Aisling Crowe and Serena Clancy providing the main resistance. Indeed, an injury-time penalty save by Holly McGahey was offset by a last gasp rebound goal for Clare substitute Leah Kelly.

However, it was only a mere consolation as this was unquestionably Antrim’s day in what was a majestic display worthy of winning any final, not to mind their first at Under 16 level.

Scorers – Antrim: L Stewart 2-0, E Stewart 0-5 (4f), K McCloskey 1-0, H Donaghy, A McGarry 0-2 each, M Dembele Mills, L Cassidy, A Monaghan 0-1 each

Clare: S Culleton 0-4 (1f), L Kelly 1-0, A McNamara 0-1f, A Crowe 0-1.

ANTRIM: H McGahey; O Neeson, J Peoples, C Scullion; S Bradley, N Munce, L Cassidy; E Neeson, A Rice; L Stewart, M Dembele Mills, A Monaghan; E Stewart, K McCloskey, H Donaghy. Subs: A McGarry for E Neeson (ht), L Wilson for K McCloskey (49), A Fitzsimons for S Bradley (50), C Murray for M Dembele Mills (56, inj), N Dobbin for O Neeson


CLARE: N O’Loughlin; K Culligan, E Burke, A Cahill; S Clancy, Aisling Kelly, H Keating; A Crowe, R Meaney; K Darcy, S Culleton, Abi Kelly; E Nagle, Á McNamara, H O’Shea. Subs: L Kelly for H O’Shea (30+2), P O’Shea for Darcy (ht), S Griffin for R Meaney (44), H Murphy for K Culligan (59)


Referee: Angela Gallagher (Meath).


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