Down let victory slip from their grasp against Limerick while Antrim learn valuable lesson from defeat to Galway
Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Championship Group Two: Limerick 2-11 Down 0-12
DOWN’S game in Cappamore was won and lost in the 60 seconds before half-time. Down had built up a lead of 0-10 to 0-1 and Aimee McAleenan was sent through on goal. However Claire Keating spread herself well to deny the Mourne captain a goal that would probably have put the game beyond Limerick.
Instead Limerick worked the sliotar down field to Caoimhe Costello who played a quick one-two with Caoimhe Lyons before blasting to the Down net.
That was a turnaround of six points and gave Limerick a huge lift going into the second half with the stiff breeze behind them.
However, Limerick looked in real trouble in the first half. Costello, from a free, had posted their only score until that stoppage time goal. They lacked fluency and struggled to match Down who had a lot of possession and deserved to lead by nine points against a home side that packed their defence.
Niamh Mallon converted four frees in the first half and she, Paula O'Hagan, Clara Cowan, Aimee McAleenan (0-2) and Anna Rogan all added points.
But Caoimhe Costello quickly became the star of the show as she accumulated 2-10, Caoimhe Lyons the only other Limerick player to raise a flag – and that flag came in stoppage time at the end of the second half.
Costello's second goal was very fortunate, her free from 60m in the 36th minute going all the way to the Down net. She had already pointed a free and then added two further points from placed balls to level the game with 20 minutes to play.
Paula O'Hagan eventually got Down back on the score-board with two frees but Costello cancelled each out with a point from play followed by another from a 45.
Costello continued to punish frees awarded for fouls on Niamh Ryan, Rebecca Delee and Caoimhe Lyons before Lyons became the second Limerick player on the scoresheet in stoppage time.
Going into the game Down had hoped to get a victory that would have given them a chance of a place in the quarter-finals. Instead the Ulster side have to get a draw or better against Offaly in the final group game this coming weekend to avoid a relegation play-off for the second successive season.
Although Offaly prop up the table without any points in the group they battled gamely against Kilkenny before going to down to a 3-18 to 2-7 defeat.
The Cats led by 12 points at the interval at UPMC Nowlan Park. After Mairéad Teehan equalised Denise Gaule’s opening score, Julieanne Malone began a run of 12 successive scores for Kilkenny that included six more points for Gaule.
Although Sarah Harding provided a brief respite for Offaly with a goal, Kilkenny responded immediately with Katie Nolan shooting to the net to make it 1-13 to 1-1 at the break. Nolan grabbed her second goal six minutes after the resumption and, when Malone raised another green flag in the 29th minute, the margin was 18.
Limerick: C Keating; S Wolfe, M Creamer, M Quaid; M Ryan, S O’Callaghan, N Curtin; N Ryan, A Larkin; C Brennan, Rebecca Delee, C Costello (2-10, 1-9 frees); C Lyons (0-1), L McCarthy, S O’Brien.
Subs: M Curtin for C Brennan (h-t), L Boylan for L McCarthy (54).
Down: C McGourty; B Savage, B Fitzpatrick, D Coleman; C McGilligan, D Magee, O Boyle; C Cowan (0-1), C Fitzpatrick; D Savage, P O’Hagan (0-3, 0-2 frees), N Mallon (0-5, 0-4 frees); L Clarke, A McAleenan (0-2), A Rogan (0-1).
Subs: A Keown for L Clarke (42 ), C Fitzsimons for D Savage (47), C Caldwell for O Boyle (54).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Wexford)
Glen Dimplex Senior Championship Group Two: Antrim 0-6 Galway 2-17
AS HAPPENED in the last Glen Dimplex Senior Championship tie in Dunloy against Kilkenny, Antrim’s opponents opted to play with the aid of the very strong breeze driving down towards the village end of the pitch.
After 17 minutes, however, Antrim were giving as good as they were getting with the league and All-Ireland champions ahead by a mere three points, 0-6 to 0-3, the Saffron points coming from Caitrin Dobbin, Róisín McCormick and Áine Magill.
All of those were excellent scores – but there could also have been two goals to get the home support well behind their team. McCormick chose the point when Magill was perhaps in with a chance of a goal, while Dobbin cut in from the right hand side and fired a shot that came off the foot of goalie Sarah Healy.
However the game then changed and Antrim were left chasing it. Carrie Dolan added two points, one from a free, before the Saffrons were caught working a ball out of defence. The turnover started a flowing move down the left wing that ended with Siobhán McGrath finding the net.
By half-time, Galway were in complete control at 1-12 to 0-4, Áine Magill scoring Antrim’s fourth point while Niamh Donnelly prevented another certain goal with a last ditch tackle on McGrath. Rebecca Hennelly picked up the pieces and pointed for the third time, but she injured herself in the execution and had to leave the action.
Antrim now had the wind behind them, but were always under pressure when attempting to find the posts. They managed to keep Galway to two more points from Dolan frees over the first 20 minutes of the second half and Róisín McCormick cancelled those with a point from a free and one from play.
But again Galway showed their experience in the final ten minutes with an unanswered goal and three points, the goal from a smart move up the left which put Aoife Donohue in the clear for a shot on target.
As with the Kilkenny game, this was an experience that will stand to Antrim. There were periods when they played extremely well against the top team in the country and, for a team just up from Intermediate, they faced the challenge well.
But ultimately these two games were all about performance. Next weekend’s final group game is about a result. A win against Limerick will see them into the quarter-finals.
Antrim: C Graham; C Drain, N Donnelly, M Lynn, L McNaughton capt, C Conlon, K Laverty, C Patterson, N O’Neill, A Boyle, M Laverty, Á Magill (0-2), C Wright, R McCormack (0-3, 0-1 free), C Dobbin (0-1).
Subs: L McKenna for N O’Neill (38), S McKillop for M Laverty (42), C McArthur for C Wright (46), NA Donnelly for C Drain (54)
Galway: Sarah Healy; R Hanniffy, S Dervan, H Cooney; S Gardiner, R Black, D Higgins; A Donohue (1-1), N Kilkenny; C Dolan (0-8), R Hennelly (0-3), N Hanniffy; S McGrath (1-1), A O’Reilly (0-2), S Rabbitte (0-1).
Subs: C Finnerty for R Hennelly (30 + 4), Shauna Healy for S Dervan (39), E Helebert for H Cooney (50), Á Keane 0-1 for N Hannify (50), C Donohue S McGrath (54).
Referee: J Dermody (Westmeath).