Hurling and camogie

Antrim camogie attempt to claim second All-Ireland Minor B championship title

Séamas McAleenan

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All-Ireland Minor B championship final: Saturday 2pm in Inniskeen: Antrim v Kildare

Tomorrow Antrim will attempt to win only their second All-Ireland Minor B championship title, a decade on from their first.

In the interim, the Saffrons have lost two finals and seen titles go to both Derry and Down. However this season there is huge expectation that their ten year wait is over.

More than half the current team won the All-Ireland Shield and Ulster Minor championship titles last year, before going on to eclipse the provincial Intermediate title during the summer.

As a result, Clíodhna Donnelly and Áine Devlin were selected respectively as Ulster minor and Intermediate Players of 2016.

Coincidentally both Áine and Cliodhna are twins and their siblings were part of last season's winning squads, but both Bronagh Devlin and Áine Donnelly have picked up injuries and missed the 4-19 to 3-6 win over Laois in the semi-final a fortnight ago.

After an evenly-contested first half, the Saffrons stepped on the gas in the ten minutes after half-time to win easily with corner-forward Caoimhe Wright amassing a personal tally of 2-9, all from open play.

Caoimhe and eight others from the squad recently picked up their Ulster Schools' All-star awards, although two of them – Áine Donnelly and Torie Edgar – will miss the final through injury.

However team manager Sean Paul McKillop believes that the injury-list has strengthened, rather than weakened, the team.

“Our panel has been stretched during the competition through injuries to players that we would have considered key to the team at the start of the competition,'' he said.

“But it has given everyone in the panel an opportunity to play at this level and a number of them have come through quickly to claim places. That has been a big positive – there is genuine competition for places on the team and it is pushing everything on.

“Having said that, we only had 18 players available against Westmeath and we struggled to get going in that match. They scored the first four points and there wasn't more than a goal between the sides throughout. But the girls dug deep and showed a lot of character.

“I think that has come out as well in the last two games, when we played an even enough first half and then pulled away after half-time. Substitutes are coming on to make a difference.

Kildare are their opponents in the final, but the former inter-county hurler admits that he knows little about them.

“We know nothing about Kildare, other than that they are, like ourselves, unbeaten.

“We have to concentrate on ourselves. We are a good team, we have been preparing well since before Christmas and our aim is to be unbeaten all season.”

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