All action Antrim hold too many aces for the Cats
by PRO on the 17th of September 2021
By Robert Cribbin, Kilkenny People Newspaper
It was Croke Park despair for the Kilkenny intermediate camogie side after they fell to an eight-point defeat at the hands of Antrim in the All-Ireland final on Sunday afternoon.
It was Antrim’s second victory over Kilkenny in a number of months as the Ulster side deservedly sealed a place at camogie’s top table in 2022.
Apart from the opening minutes where Kilkenny raced into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead, it was a game that Antrim were mostly in control of and if anything the final scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story of how the game transpired.
With no second teams permitted in the 2021 championship, Kilkenny will have watched on as Antrim fell to Down in last year’s All-Ireland decider and the hurt of that defeat seemed to drive the Saffrons on as they took GAA HQ by storm
In Maeve Kelly, Roisin McCormack and Catrine Dobbin, the victors had a trio of superb performers who took the game by storm and every time they got their hands on the sliotar something seemed to happen.
Kilkenny had their moments with Sophie O’Dwyer, Eva Hynes and Sarah Walsh leading the fight up front but once Kelly netted Antrim’s opening goal in the second quarter, the confidence seemed to drain out of Kilkenny and although they remained competitive, they were unable to get a hold of a rampant Antrim outfit.
Kilkenny were appearing in their first championship decider since 2016 and the fact that their performance levels never really got to the standard, they expect of themselves will be something that will annoy them over the coming weeks and months.
Antrim dispatched of Galway in the semi-finals so the fact they came through against a number of second-string outfits from the elite counties will give them great confidence as they aim to step it up again next year.
Antrim wasted no time in making the running with Maeve Kelly putting her side in front within seconds of the start after an expertly taken point from play.
Kilkenny replied in emphatic style though as they knocked over the next four points into the deserted Hill 16 end.
Thomastown star Sarah Walsh got on the scoresheet on two occasions during this spell while Eva Hynes and Ciara O’Keefe also splitting the posts.
Kilkenny looked in great form but the momentum soon took a gear change when Antrim hit the next four points with a trio of Roisin McCormack efforts arriving before Lucia McNaughton edged her side in front.
Danielle Quigley then levelled up matters but it was Antrim who led at the first water break after Kelly knocked over her second point.
Sophie O’Dwyer opened her Kilkenny account when she knocked over a free in the 17th minute which levelled the contest at 0-6 apiece.
Eva Hynes and Nicole O’Neill then swapped efforts as both teams played their part in very enjoyable game.
The enjoyment from the Kilkenny side of things began to dwindle from the 21st minute onwards though as that’s when Antrim’s Maeve Kelly broke forward and after avoiding a few tackles the pacy wing forward forced the ball past Sinead Farrell in the Kilkenny goal.
The response from Kilkenny was very swift though as O’Dwyer and Hynes knocked over successive points to reduce the gap to the minimum.
The goal seemed to give Antrim an extra boost of confidence however as they scored four points in a row before the half-time break.
The concession of a lot of frees was killing Kilkenny and Roisin McCormack was proving deadly on the placed balls for the Ulster side and she added a brace while she was also denied another effort by the intervention of hawkeye.
O’Neill and Catrine Dobbin got the other points for Antrim and all of a sudden, they had opened up a five point lead at the break and Kilkenny looked in big trouble (1-11 to 0-9).
The expected Kilkenny fightback never really arrived in the second period either as Antrim continued to play with a swagger and points from Kelly and Aine Magill extended their lead to seven.
O’Dwyer kept Kilkenny honest with a couple of frees and she gave her side some much needed hope when firing a 21 yard free to the net in the 43rd minute to give them some hope.
Instead it proved to be a case of poking the bear and after the dynamic duo of McCormack and Kelly added to their tallies, the game was put beyond all doubt when McCormack brilliantly set up Catrine Dobbin who collected the sliotar on route to scoring Antrim’s second goal.
It all meant Paul McKillen’s side led by ten points at the final water break and they could enjoy the final quarter somewhat.
It was a tough finish for Kilkenny knowing they had no realistic route back into the game but O’Dwyer who was a shining light added a point as did sub-Therese Donnelly.
Sarah Crowley then scored a consolation goal on the cusp of stoppage time but nothing was going to spoil the Antrim party as they got their day in the sun.
Antrim: Roisin McCormack (0-9, 0-4f), Maeve Kelly (1-5), Catrine Dobbin (1-2), Nicole O’Neill (0-3), Lucia McNaughton and Aine Magill (0-1 each)
Kilkenny: Sophie O’Dwyer (1-5, 0-4f), Sarah Crowley (1-0), Eva Hynes (0-3), Sarah Walsh (0-2), Ciara O’Keefe, Danielle Quigley and Therese Donnelly (0-1 each)Teams
Antrim: Catrina Graham; Chloe Drain, Niamh Donnelly, Maria Lynn; Colleen Patterson, Caoimhe Connolly, Maeve Connolly; Lucia McNaughton, Nicole O’Neill; Maeve Kelly, Amy Boyle, Aine Magill; Roisin McCormack, Christina Laverty, Catrina Dobbin.
Subs: Anna Connolly for Laverty 37 mins, Katie McAleese (Carey) for Magill 50 mins, Laoise McKenna for Boyle 60 mins, Katie McKillop for Connolly 61 mins.
Kilkenny: Sinead Farrell; Niamh Leahy, Roisin Phelan, Ciara Murphy; Sarah Crowley, Leann Fennelly, Tiffanie Fitzgerald; Laura Hegarty, Ciara Phelan; Eva Hynes, Sarah Walsh, Ciara O’Keeffe; Sophie O’Dwyer, Hannah Scott, Danielle Quigley.
Subs: Jennifer Leahy for Hegarty 35 mins, Therese Donnelly for Quigley 42 mins, Sinead O’Keeffe for Fitzgerald 46 mins, Caoimhe Dowling for Scott 52 mins, Roisin O’Keeffe for C O’Keeffe 56 mins.
Referee- Conor Quinlan (Galway)
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