Antrim claim first ever All-Ireland U16 title

The Antrim squad celebrate their victory in the All-Ireland U16 C final
The Antrim squad celebrate their victory in the All-Ireland U16 C final

All-Ireland Ladies’ Football U16 C final

Antrim 3-12 Clare 1-6 

NOTHING was going to stop Antrim from securing a first ever All-Ireland U16 C title in Conneff Park, Clane, writes Eoin Brennan.  

An impressive attacking unit of Erin Stewart and Katie McCloskey, the tireless work-rate of Mia Dembele Mills and Hanna Donaghy 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, the dismissal 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. 

Antrim had to dig even deeper in the second-half when captain Nicole Munce was sin-binned. However, what they lacked in numbers, the Saffrons more than made up for in character, skill and movement to outscore the Banner. 

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. 

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.

An injury-time penalty save by Holly McGahey was offset by a last gasp rebound goal for Clare substitute Leah Kelly.  

However, it was a mere consolation as this was unquestionably Antrim’s day in what was a majestic display worthy of winning any final.

Kerry also made history at the weekend as they captured the All-Ireland U16 B title for the first time ever with victory over Sligo.

Goals from Anna O’Sullivan, Mary Kate Smith, Lori O’Connor and Lisa Slattery were ultimately the difference as the Kingdom overcame the Yeats county on a scoreline of 4-10 to 2-13.