McKillen praises Antrim camogs for 'best peformance of the year's in All-Ireland semi-final
All-Ireland Intermediate Championship
Antrim joint-manager Paul McKillen was “over the moon” as the final whistle sounded in Clones. But he wanted all the praise heaped on his players after they withstood a late Galway onslaught to book their place in the All-Ireland intermediate final.
“That is the best performance we have produced this year. That Galway team came here today to get revenge on the defeat we gave them in the league quarter-final. They believed they could reach the final," McKillen said.
“But we were up for the game. I have never seen our team playing as well as they did today. And they have played well all year. They are a great bunch of girls and I don't think they have got enough praise for what they have been doing.
“We are back in an All-Ireland final and I think we have beaten one of the best teams in the competition and I don't mean any disrespect to Kilkenny who are there in the final. Galway were well set-up, have good players and play a good brand of camogie.
“We moved the sliotar fast and kept it simple and hurling or camogie hasn't really changed that much. But these girls, I just can't praise them enough.”
Obviously the two early goals gave Antrim a serious lift and McKillen agreed.
“Yes, the goals were a great start. One of them would grace any All-Ireland final, hurling or camogie. You don't see it often these days, but when you catch a first time strike off the ground sweetly it is a thing of beauty and Róisín (McCormick) did just that.
“They came early and they meant that Galway had to chase the game. But our team stuck well together and kept that gap right through the game.”
And what about those final few moments?
“We were going into injury time and we were six up. The fourth official told me there would be two extra minutes. I looked away for a moment and when I looked back the sliotar was in our net.
“I have to say things were very tense until the final whistle sounded.”
Antrim's opponents in the Croke Park final on September 12 will be Kilkenny, who were 0-13 to 0-9 winners over Meath in the other semi-final, a game dominated by the free-takers and winners Kilkenny were happy enough to haul down their opponents rather than give away a score. They picked up no fewer than six yellow cards over the hour, but will worry little about that as they kept their noses in front after a scoring burst in the second quarter and were comfortable enough winners.
The early stages were tight enough and Kilkenny were 0-4 to 0-3 ahead at the water-break. However Sophie O'Dwyer pointed four times between water-break and half time, three of them frees and Kilkenny led by 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.
Jane Dolan had pointed three frees during the first half and she added another point at the start of the second half. However Kilkenny dug in and frustrated their opponents and were content enough to work their way in for frees that O'Dwyer pointed.
All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-finals:
Galway 1-13 Tipperary 0-12
Cork 0-15 Kilkenny 1-11
All-Ireland Intermediate Championship semi-finals:
Kilkenny 0-13 Meath 0-9
Antrim 2-13 Galway 1-13
All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship semi-finals:
Armagh 2-13 Clare 1-6
Wexford 3-18 Roscommon 0-8
Nancy Murray Cup final:
Mayo 3-8 Tyrone 1-12