Hurling & Camogie

Antrim need to turn tables on Clare in Division 3B decider

Antrim’s Sinead Cosgrove (left) and Clare’s Kate O’Gorman are likely to cross paths again in Saturday's Division 3B final	            Picture by INPHO
Antrim’s Sinead Cosgrove (left) and Clare’s Kate O’Gorman are likely to cross paths again in Saturday's Division 3B final Picture by INPHO

Very Ireland Camogie League Division 3B final

Antrim v Clare (Saturday, Clane, 2pm)

ANTRIM and Clare met in Portglenone on St Patrick’s Day in a game that was evenly-contested for the first 15 and last 10 minutes. 

In between, however, Clare were dominant and got into a position early in the second half from where they were able to see out a 2-10 to 1-9 win.

They were more physical and more skilful than Antrim during that middle period of the game and the Saffrons had no answer. It was an emerging Antrim side’s worst performance across the group games.

Last Saturday, the Saffrons were much improved and had Dublin beaten by half-time with a fast-paced running game that the visitors to Armoy couldn’t handle. 

But they struggled a bit during the third quarter and once again that could be their Achilles’ heel going into the final.

This year Antrim have promoted a number of last year’s All-Ireland junior winning side to the senior squad and replaced them with younger players. 

It has maybe taken these younger players a while to settle into the team and play at the level that they have shown with underage sides the past few years.

Last year’s squad began in much the same fashion. They lost a couple of league games through inexperience and then beat Division Three champions Cavan in the semi-final of the Ulster junior championship.

Next they lost the Ulster final to Armagh, but closed the gap in the group stages of the All-Ireland. By the time they met Clare in the semi-final, they were beginning to get things right and they went on to Croke Park glory by beating Armagh. But it was very much a work in progress through the season.

They showed inexperience against Clare a month ago. They will probably be improved for tomorrow’s final, but may fall short in that they are still in the process of building.

By contrast, Clare looked to have a more settled team and a spread of experienced players who were able to dispossess opponents and quickly distribute passes that forwards enjoy.

Kate O’Gorman, Olivia Phelan and Aisling Cooney caused Antrim a lot of bother the last day. Yet the Antrim defence is probably the team’s strength.

It was the ball won and cleared by the half-backs that did the most damage and getting the workrate out of the Saffron half-forwards could change the game significantly.

Clare are the favourites, but Antrim have the potential to match them. It will simply be a case of getting it right on the day.