Hurling and camogie

Antrim and Down camogs advance to All-Ireland final

Séamas McAleenan

Kingspan Breffni Park has been confirmed as the venue for both the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate and Junior finals on December 5th. Times still to be allocated.

Meanwhile the Ulster Council has rescheduled the remaining games in the Ulster Senior Championship as a consequence of both Down and Antrim reaching the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate final.

Had Antrim lost on Saturday, they would have been playing Derry in the Ulster semi-final this weekend.

Instead that game has been postponed a fortnight until December 13 with the final against three-in-a-row chasing Down a week later.

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final: Down 0-14 Meath 0-8

DOWN came into this Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final with impressive wins over Derry and Laois and their stock will surely rise ahead of the final with this demolition of the 2017 champions Meath in Clones.

However manager Derek McGrath was a little frustrated with the amount of scoring chances that were wasted.

“We missed a lot through the game, particularly in the first half, but I was really pleased with the team performance.

“We were on top for maybe 50 out of the 60 minutes; our work-rate was very good, and we played without fear. I have to say that it was an excellent team performance, the hooking, the blocking, the chasing back.

“Meath are a team coming down from senior and they are very physical, very experienced, but we stood up to that and we will have learned from it.”

Down dominated the wind-assisted opening half, but only led by 0-6 to 0-2 at the break with a series of wides blighting great work from Sorcha McCartan, Niamh Mallon and a defensive unit in which Fionnuala Carr swept up a lot of ball.

Mallon had an early goal chance after two points from Paula O’Hagan, but the Portaferry ace picked up a disguised pass from her club-mate Saoirse Sands to land a third Down point in the 12th minute just before Sinéad Hackett opened Meath’s account.

Aidín Slattery added a second Meath point but McCartan, Sara Louise Graffin and another converted free by O’Hagan put Down four ahead at the break and they pushed on in the third quarter to lead by 0-11 to 0-5 by the second water break. O’Hagan converted four frees and Graffin added two points with her effort in the 43rd minute following a turnover by Lauren Clarke the pick of the scores.

Meath rallied with three scores in a row to close the gap to three points with 55 minutes gone, but Down stepped up a gear with a point from Sorcha McCartan sandwiched between two from Niamh Mallon bringing them to a second final in three seasons.

Player of the Match: Sorcha McCartan

It was difficult to pick one from a sound team performance, but Sorcha’s work-rate and her two excellent scores edges it for the Castlewellan forward.

Down: C McGourty, C Caldwell, D Magee, D Harrison, B Fitzpatrick, F Carr, K McMullan capt, A Keown, P O’Hagan (0-7 frees), S McCartan (0-2), SL Graffin (0-3), A McAleenan, S Sands, L Clarke, N Mallon (0-2).

Subs: C Cowan for S Sands (23), C Rocks for B Fitzpatrick (58), I O’Hare for A McAleenan (60).

Meath: M Randle; S Payne, C Coffey, L Donoghue; T King, M Clince, C O’Brien; A Slattery (0-1), K Troy capt; Aoife Minogue (0-5 frees), L Dennehy, M Thynne; Sinead Hackett (0-1), Jane Dolan, A Keogh.

Subs: A Maguire (0-1) for L Dennehy for A Slattery (HT)

Referee: Philip McDonnell (Cavan)

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final: Antrim 0-14 Laois 0-3

ANTRIM reached their sixth Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate championship final with a third successive victory in their “home venue” of Iniskeen.

This was the easiest of the three wins over Leinster opponents with Laois offering little up front. Indeed they failed to score from open play and didn’t trouble the score-board after the 24th minute.

Antrim made two changes from the win over Meath a fortnight ago, Colleen Patterson and Christine Laverty coming in to stamp their authority on the game. The defence didn’t put a foot wrong and Eimear Boyle brought off an excellent save in the last couple of minutes.

Up front Maeve Kelly and Cáitrín Dobbin sparkled while the work-rate of Lucia McNaughton, Nicole O’Neill and Christine Laverty kept the Saffrons on the offensive.

The Saffrons were in control over the opening half against the breeze with three points apiece from Maeve Kelly and Cáitrín Dobbin, one from Róisín McCormick and two frees from Nicole O’Neill, while Kirsten Keenan (2) and Aimee Collier landed frees for Laois.

But that accuracy left Laois for the second half and by the end they were on their fifth free-taker even though they had a good third quarter as Jessie Quinlan and Joyce Dunne forcing their way into the heart of Antrim’s defence.

Maeve Kelly brought a brilliant save from Aedin Lowry but Nicole O’Neill pointed the 45 to bring her total to five points. Roisin McCormick and Lucia McNaughton completed the scoring as four subs were introduced over the final 20 minutes.

Co-manager Jim McKernan was pleased with the performance.

“Laois were dogged and never gave us an inch there. We had to work hard for the win. We are in the final and that was our aim before the game started. Nothing else mattered.

“We created a couple of goal chances, but didn’t score one. We are a young team and still developing, so we still have something to learn.

“We knew who was in the final when we took the field, but that didn’t impact on how we went into the game. We were looking to reach a final.

It was a comfortable win for Antrim. And everything is set for an all-Ulster final on December 5th.

Player of the Match: Maeve Kelly

Maeve created and took three excellent points in the first half, and had a goal effort thwarted by a brilliant save from Lowry in the second.

Antrim: E Boyle, C Patterson, C Drain, C Conlon, N Donnelly, M Connolly capt., A Boyle, E Laverty, L McNaughton (0-1), M Kelly (0-3), Christine Laverty, C Dobbin (0-3), R McCormack (0-2), O O’Hara, N O’Neill (0-5 frees).

Subs: Ciara Laverty for O O’Hara (35), M O’Neill for E Laverty (35), Á Donnelly for N O’Neill (52), C McShane for C Conlon (55).

Laois: A Lowry, M O’Connor, R Kilmartin, L Finlay, C Tynan, A McEvoy, A Collier (0-1 free), J Bergin, J Quinlan (0-1), J Dunne, S Creagh, LM Maher, S Cuddy capt., K Keenan (0-2 frees), A O’Dea.

Subs: C Galbraith for S Creagh (35), LC Fennell for K Keenan (44), N Coss for A O’Dea ((52), J Dollard for S Cuddy (55), G Hyland for J Bergin (59)

Referee: Justin Heffernan (Wexford)

All-Ireland Premier Junior semi-final: Armagh 2-10 Tyrone 3-4

TYRONE recovered from a heavy defeat to Cavan the previous week in the Nancy Murray Cup decider by almost upsetting the form-book in Crossmaglen on Saturday.

Indeed they led from their first goal in the 10th minute until a few minutes from time when Armagh substitute Eimear Smyth grabbed her second goal. Even at that late stage they were not giving up and the home side were lucky enough to survive as Niamh McNulty, Grainne Rafferty, Reagan Fay and goalie Úna McCann all impressed.

Armagh will argue that the Tyrone goals came against the run of play in the first half after Ciara Donnelly and Rachael Merry had given them an early lead. Having said that they needed to dig deep and the efforts of Armagh Nikki Woods, Ciara Hill, Merry and the Donnelly sisters just about got them over the line.

Norah Ward took a pass from Reagan Fay for Tyrone’s first goal and when Kelley Cuddy’s delivery from distance travelled all the way to the net, Tyrone knew they were in with a chance. Cara Little raised a third green flag and Tyrone led by 3-1 to 0-5 at the change of ends.

Armagh had brought Eimear Smyth on just before half time and when they poured forward in the third quarter Smyth sent a rocket to the Tyrone net to bring the difference down to 3-2 to 1-7 by the second water break.

Úna McCann brought off a couple of fantastic saves denying Leanne Donnelly with Niamh McNulty adding scores to keep Tyrone ahead. But a second Smyth goal hit Tyrone where it hurt and late points from Ciara Donnelly and Rachel Merry pushed the boat out on their neighbours.

Armagh: C Devlin, A Harvey, N Woods, G McCann, E O’Kane, L Toner, S Kernan, C Hill, A McMahon, N Forker, L Smith (0-1), E McKee, L Donnelly (0-1), R Merry (0-4, 0-3 frees), C Donnelly (0-4, 0-3 frees)

Subs used: E Smyth (2-0)

Tyrone: Ú McCann, G Rafferty, J Lagan, C McGready, L Barker, A Jordan, A McDonald, C Gallagher, R Barker, R McErlean, K Cuddy (1-0), N McNulty (0-4 frees), C Little (1-0), R Fay (0-1 free), N Ward (1-0).

Subs used: A Coyle, C Jordan, L McKernan, C Muldoon, N Coyle

All-Ireland Premier Junior semi-final: Cavan 2-16 Roscommon 1-6

THE CAVAN success story continues after they overturned a fourth minute goal from Shauna Fallon to power through to their second national final in as many weeks with a comfortable victory in Athleague.

Points from Sinéad McKenna (3), Róisín O’Keefe (2) and Shanise Fitzsimons helped the Nancy Murray Cup champions draw level at the interval, 0-6 to 1-3 as Josephine Maguire took control around the middle third and O’Keefe dominated in the three-quarter line.

Sinéad McKenna hit the last four scores in the Nancy Murray Cup final the week before and she followed up her three in the first half of this semi-final with five more after the break as Cavan pulled away from their Connacht neighbours.

Róisín O’Keeffe’s goal put daylight between the sides and Shanise Fitzsimons added another major in the 55th minute to ensure the continuation of the Breffni women’s fairy-tale season.

Cavan scorers: Róisín O’Keefe (1-3), Shanise Fitzsimons (1-2), Sinéad McKenna (0-8), Hannah Boylan (0-1), Niamh Reilly (0-1), Ciara Shalvey (0-1)

Roscommon scorers: Shauna Fallon (1-2), Rachel Fitzmaurice (0-2), Chloe Whyte Lennon (0-1), Niamh Conway (0-1)

SIGNPOST: See full camogie coverage at www.irishnews.com/sport

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Hurling and camogie