Antrim secure knockout spot with win over Kildare
All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Group Two: Antrim 3-16 Kildare 1-7
ANTRIM needed to win their final group game in Portglenone in the All-Ireland Intermediate championship by a margin of 12 points to make certain that they were not dependent on the result of the other game in the group between Kilkenny and Cork which had a later throw-in time.
In the end the Saffrons achieved that and were comfortable – but they may not have made it without a goal right on half-time from Katie Carey.
Prior to that score, Antrim struggled with the conditions and had given Kildare a foothold through a Deirbhile Byrne goal in the 13th minute. Shots were going astray, mistakes were creeping into general play and they held a 0-7 to 1-2 lead.
Then an excellent cross-field solo run from Róisín McCormick ended with a shot that looked to be dropping wide at the far post until Carey stuck her hurl in the air and diverted the sliotar to the net. She had been denied a similar score minutes earlier when referee Philip McDonald adjusted her to be inside the area but that goal made an impact.
Starting the second half with a 1-7 to 1-2 lead, Antrim were a much more confident team epitomised by sub Christine Laverty racing through for the opening point within a minute.
Róisín McCormick soon tagged on three points, Áine Magill another as Antrim pushed on. A couple of minutes before the second water break, McCormick broke clear and her shot was parried by Tanya Johnson into the path of Cáitrín Dobbin who slotted it to the net and the Saffrons led by 2-13 to 1-5 heading into the last quarter.
Dobbin added a third goal on the restart, dancing around the outside of the defence and shooting across the ‘keeper. That score reached the magic 12-point gap between the side.
Despite a spirited rally from Kildare near the end, Antrim pushed on a with points from McCormick, sub Róisín Kelly and captain Lucia McNaughton to sail into the knock-out stages of the competition.
Antrim started the game well and led by 0-4 to 0-1 before the goal from Byrne almost derailed their game-plan. Once they got back on course they were the better side by a good margin and now have a couple of weeks for injuries to clear up before they face into the knock-out series.
Cork entered the other game as group leaders, but a 2-7 to 0-9 defeat means that they have been edged out on score difference in a three-way tie at the top. Kilkenny are tops while Antrim go through in second place.
Antrim: C Graham; C Drain, N Donnelly, M Lynn; C Patterson, C Conlon, M Connolly; L McNaughton (0-1), N O'Neill; Ciara Laverty, A Connolly (0-2), Á Magill (0-2), R McCormick (0-8, 0-3 frees, 0-2 45s), K Carey (1-0), Caitrín Dobbin (2-1).
Subs: Christine Laverty (0-1) for Ciara Laverty (h-t), Ciara Dobbin for K Carey (45), R Kelly (0-1) for A Connolly (52), S Devlin for C Patterson (53), L McKenna for M Connolly (60).
Kildare: T Johnson; M Doyle, K Perkins, N Malcolmson; E Morgan, C Hallissy, E Reilly; N Hegarty, A Stynes (0-1); Á Conway, A Fitzgerald, S Hurley (0-1 free); L Sutton (0-4 frees), E Kielty, D Byrne 1-1.
Subs: C Temple for E Kielty (h-t), Á Harrington for M Doyle (46)
Referee: P McDonald (Cavan)