GAA Football

Antrim boss Emma Kelly aiming for Division Four success after All-Ireland Junior triumph

Antrim captain Cathy Carey, left, and Grainne McLaughlin lift the West County Hotel Cup along with four-year-old Daithi MacGabhann following the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies JFC Final replay win over Fermanagh. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Louise Gunn at The Athletic Grounds, Armagh

ANTRIM manager Emma Kelly is already eyeing up the next piece of silverware following her side's All-Ireland Junior Championship final replay win over Fermanagh in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday.

The former player turned manager knows the Saffrons must get out of Division Four if they are to compete at the next level - Intermediate - of championship football next summer.

"Division Four is obviously going to be the aim now. You have to be playing against stronger, better, harder teams and Intermediate is going to show that," said Kelly, who also alluded to how tough the Junior competition would be as well next season with Down and Sligo having been relegated.

"Trials start in November... We have good minors stepping out now and they will be looking to push on to senior so next year's squad could be completely different. That's a good thing as it pushes the rest and makes the whole team better,” she added.

While she may be planning ahead, she also revelled in delight of her side's triumph over Fermanagh on a day that everything went right.

"I am so happy for them to actually show what they could do. We knew the skill and the level was there in Antrim, so I'm just happy now that everybody in the country got to see it."

Two early goals - a slightly fortunate one from Lara Dahunsi and a penalty from captain Cathy Carey, set them on their way to victory leaving Fermanagh to chase from the seventh minute.

"Lara's goal, it's one of them that we obviously liked it because it was for us, but it's something that you don't like seeing happen either. It was a bit of luck for us and it maybe then pushed us on as well and I thought our defence and the work rate of our forwards was class today. I am so proud for them all that they have stood up and proved a point.

"The girls know they are good enough and I think everybody in the county know they are good enough, it is just about getting out and buying into it and pushing on and last year and this year, myself and Kyla couldn't complain, they are honest, they are committed, they turn up, they bust themselves and they go for it."

Fermanagh manager James Daly was honest in his assessment saying that while the penalty decision baffled him, Antrim were the better team.

"The first goal was very unlucky for us, a high ball came in, Roisin probably looked straight up into that sun and it's very, very bright and she misread it and the ball went into the back of the net.

"I'm still trying to figure out what the second goal was, it was a penalty and for everybody that I have talked to, nobody knows what it was for.

"But I am proud of this team, this team has battled hard, to come from nowhere, to get to the All-Ireland Junior final, to take it to a replay against a very, very fancied Antrim team, a much more experienced team - they have young players too but they are a lot further down the line than we are and hopefully we will get to play them in a couple of years at Intermediate level."

GAA Football