REPORT: Antrim finally get one over on Fermanagh to land TG4 Ulster Junior crown

TG4 Ulster Junior Championship Final

Antrim 0-18
Fermanagh 2-9

ANTRIM got their hands on the TG4 Ulster junior title on Sunday thanks to a superb second half display in Clones.

This was the fourth meeting between the sides this year, with Fermanagh winning the previous three encounters, including the Lidl NFL Division 4 Final.

It looked very like they were going to make it another memorable day as goals either end of the opening half saw them lead at the break by five points.

That was not to be the case, however, as the Saffrons came roaring back at them in the second half and once they hit the front for the first time, they pushed on for the victory.

It took just ten seconds for Fermanagh to rattle the net, with ace forward Eimear Smyth tucking the ball away.

The lead was extended to five points by the 12th minute as Antrim struggled to curtain the Fermanagh forward power.

Gradually though, they did, and looked very dangerous on the break themselves and were unlucky not to find the net on 21 minutes when first Mairead Cooper had an effort off the crossbar and from the rebound Caitlin Taggart struck the outside of the post.

The excellent Joanne Doonan, captain of Fermanagh, moved her side five clear again but with points from Niamh Enright and two from Taggart, the difference was just two with four minutes of the half remaining.

However, Fermanagh took control again when Doonan firstly hit a point and then was on hold to palm home a goal to help them into a 2-6 to 0-7 advantage at the break.

A Danielle Maguire point extended the lead on the resumption but with Lara Dahunsi coming more into the game, Antrim began their comeback.

A double form Cathy Carey, a fine tip-over from Roisin Gleeson to deny Dahunsi a goal, followed by an Orla Corr point suddenly had Antrim back within two points.

Smyth made it a three-point game but Dahunsi, with two, and a Niamh Enright point levelled matters with 14 minutes remaining.

The Ernesiders edged back in front through substitute Blaithin Bogue, before Doonan was denied what looked a certain goal by a wonder Emma Kelly block.

Dahunsi levelled and the returning Cooper, who had gone off at the end of the opening half, put Antrim ahead for the first time.

Carey wrapped up the victory with two converted frees and Antrim were home.

Both sides will meet again in the TG4 All-Ireland Championship group stages and considering what they have produced in four previous outings, another close and top-quality game is expected.

Fermanagh: R Gleeson; A Maguire, E Murphy, M Flynn; M McGloin (0-1), C Murphy, S McQuaid; R O’Reilly, A Flanagan; J Doonan (1-2), N Connolly (0-1), D Maguire (0-1); L Maguire, E Smyth (1-3, 0-2f), A O’Brien.

Subs: E Magee for O’Brien (ht), A McGovern for Flynn (38), B Bogue (0-1) for L Maguire (44), A Woods for D Maguire (49), S Courtney for Connolly (59).

Antrim: A McCann; S Haughey, M Hanna, O Corr (0-1); A Tubridy, N Killen, K Farren; S Tennyson, A McFarland; E Kelly, C Carey (0-7, 6f), N Enright (0-2); C Taggart (0-2), M Cooper (0-2, 1f), L Dahunsi (0-4).

Subs: D McManus for Cooper (30), Cooper for Taggart (56).

Ref: S Coyle (Donegal)

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