Ulster rivals to meet again after Antrim grab late leveller to set up All-Ireland junior final replay with Fermanagh

Orlaith Prenter of Antrim in action against Molly McGloin of Fermanagh during the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Junior Championship Final match between Antrim and Fermanagh at Croke Park Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship Final: Antrim 1-13 Fermanagh 1-13

ORLAITH Prenter held her nerve to convert a final minute free for Antrim and send the All-Ireland Junior Championship final against Fermanagh to a replay.

The Ulster champions had led from the sixth minute until Eimear Smyth put Fermanagh into the lead, 1-13 to 1-12 two minutes from time in a dramatic encounter in Croke Park yesterday afternoon.

The first of a triple header on All-Ireland Finals Day, it had two sin bins, a disallowed goal, a penalty, 20 wides and some impressive shooting, notably Blaithin Bogue finishing with seven points, all from play for Fermanagh, Eimear Smyth with 1-3 and six points for Antrim’s Orlaith Prenter.

Nerves were perhaps an over-riding factor in the first half - Antrim hit 11 wides during that spell while Fermanagh were wasteful in possession and were struggling on their kick-out especially in the opening quarter, but they only trailed by three points at half-time, 1-7 to 0-7.

The Erne County started well with points from Eimear Smyth and Aisling O’Brien in the second minute before Aine Tubridy got the Saffrons off the mark and they hit another three without reply in the next five to move 0-4 to 0-2 ahead through Orlaith Prenter (2) and Grainne McLaughlin with just over 10 minutes gone.

Gleeson denied Moneyglass’s Maria O’Neill the opening major in the 14th minute but the goal that was threatening came in the 18th minute and O’Neill made no mistake with a superb top corner finish into the Davin Stand end to move Antrim 1-5 to 0-4 ahead.

Bogue, who was a real threat for Fermanagh hit three of the game’s next four points, to add to two points from earlier, to bring them back to within two but Antrim captain Cathy Carey, who had missed a couple of frees earlier, raised the white flag in the 29th minute to leave the goal between them at the break.

Antrim were dealt an early blow with the loss of corner forward Niamh McIntosh to the sin bin for 10 minutes after a deliberate pull back on Eimear Smyth. From the resulting free, Smyth lofted the ball high into the air and when Bogue appeared to time her run to perfection to palm the ball to the back of the net it looked like Fermanagh had levelled the scores, but after a VAR-like check, the goal was ruled out for a square ball.

Smyth, who was becoming more influential, sent over the game’s first score from a free but Antrim doubled their advantage through O’Neill and McLaughlin (free) to make it 1-10 to 0-9.

Sarah Britton and another superb Bogue point wiped out Antrim’s two scores just as McIntosh returned to play and they were rewarded with a point from Prenter to leave the goal separating the sides once again before O’Neill had a great chance to put the game beyond Fermanagh’s reach in the 45th minute but her effort came crashing back off the crossbar.

The drama continued when Fermanagh were awarded a 49th minute penalty when Bogue was adjudged to have been tripped in the large rectangle despite Antrim protests that it was just outside. Smyth kept her cool to blast past Anna McCann brought Fermanagh back to within a point and substitute Erin Tierney, at just 17 years of age, levelled with a superb effort with five minutes to go.

Fermanagh then lost Bogue to the sin bin with just over four minutes left on the clock but despite the numerical disadvantage it was Fermanagh who crept into the lead for the first time since the second minute through Smyth. With time ticking away, Antrim were awarded a 21m free and Prenter held her nerve to level the game.

The reply will take place on Saturday, August 13 with the venue to be decided.

Antrim: A McCann; D Coleman, A McFarland, N McIntosh; M Mulholland, S Tennyson, S O’Neill; L Dahunsi, Á Tubridy (0-1); C Taggart, C Carey (capt) (0-2), M O’Neill (1-1); B Devlin, O Prenter (0-6, 0-2 frees), G McLaughlin (0-3, 0-1 free)

Subs: O Corr for C Taggart (33), T Mellon for B Devlin (34), A Taggart for McLaughlin (40)

Fermanagh: R Gleeson; E Keenan, M McGloin (capt.), S McQuade; N McManus, S McCarville, C Bogue; B Bannon, A O’Brien (0-1); E Maguire, B Bogue (0-7), S Britton (0-1); C McElroy, E Smyth (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free), L Grew

Subs: E Tierney (0-1) for Maguire (19), E Douglas for McManus (41), E Maguire for L Grew (55)

Referee: Kevin Corcoran (Mayo)

Subs: E Tierney (0-1) for Maguire (19), E Douglas for McManus (41), E Maguire for L Grew (55)

Referee: Kevin Corcoran (Mayo)