Hurling & Camogie

Antrim's history-making camogs into All-Ireland senior quarter-finals; Down lose heavily to Cork

Antrim players Mary McKillen (11), Katie McKillop (12) and Caitrin Dobbin (15) savour Saturday's win over Offaly at Portglenone Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Antrim players Mary McKillen (11), Katie McKillop (12) and Caitrin Dobbin (15) savour Saturday's win over Offaly at Portglenone Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship round two

Group 3

Antrim 3-16 Offaly 1-12

Limerick 0-11 Waterford 2-19

ANTRIM are through to the knock-out stages of the All-Ireland senior championship for the first time in more than four decades.

Their comfortable 10-point win in Portglenone on Saturday, combined with yesterday’s victory for Waterford against Limerick, means that the Saffrons and the Déise will occupy the two qualification spots from the group.

The pair will meet in the final group game on July 1. Meanwhile Offaly and Limerick’s game on the same day will decide who drops down into the relegation dog-fight the following week.

Despite a bright start from Offaly on Saturday, Antrim were able to establish a half-time lead of six points and hold on to it through the second half, with Róisín McCormick’s injury-time goal icing the cake to the delight of captain Caoimhe Conlon.

“It was a bit of shock when they took a four-one lead after just five or six minutes. But we settled well after that and, apart from a period around their goal, I felt that we controlled the game.

“Last year we went into the Limerick game knowing a win would have taken us into the knock-out stages. We didn’t get it and that was a huge disappointment. Over the past fortnight I thought that we managed well our preparations for the game and also the game itself.

“We had looked at the draw when it was made before Easter and we felt that winning the first two games was within our reach. With that done now, we can go to Waterford without the extra pressure of having to win.”

Conlon was solid throughout as was Niamh Cosgrove beside her in the half-back line. Amy Boyle as usual got through a mountain of work at midfield while Róisín McCormick looks to be back at her best with some brilliant scores, topped off by the late goal.

Her main strike partners, Áine Magill and Caitrín Dobbin, bagged the first-half goals and generally caused the Offaly defence plenty of bother.

Dobbin got the game off to a quick start with a point in the first minute, but the next four scores up to the sixth minute all came from Offaly, with two from Rachel Brennan.

McCormick then fired over three frees in a row to level the game before she sent Áine Magill through for a clear run on goal and a shot rifled to the top of the net.

Antrim pushed on with Magill adding a point between two more from McCormick and they led by 1-7 to 0-4 after 16 minutes. Offaly, though, hit back and over the next six minutes they were back level with two frees from Becky Bryant, a third point from Brennan and then a goal finished by Lisa Gorman.

However, it was back to Antrim’s turn to run up a few scores and they managed 1-3 before the break, the goal from Caitrín Dobbin in the 26th minute when she made two attempts to lift before pulling on the ground across Leah Gallagher in the Offaly nets to find the corner.

The scores didn’t come as quickly over the second half-hour – and neither were they the result of periodic spells of pressure. Up until the start of injury-time, the teams managed four points each, responding in kind to each other through the half.

Then in the first minute of added time, Dobbin cut in from the left corner, lobbed a delightful pass across goal into McCormick’s hand and the Loughgiel ace hit the net.

Goals from All-stars Niamh Rockett and Beth Carton helped Waterford secure their second high-scoring victory in the group and they need only to draw with Antrim to top the group.

The next game can wait though as the Saffrons no doubt had a mini celebration as they are going where no other Antrim team has gone for 41 years.

Group 1

Cork 3-19 Down 1-10

Clare 0-13 Galway 1-13

JOLTED by a Down goal from Olivia Boyle in the 18th minute, Cork hit three goals before half-time to take them clear of the northern challenge in Saturday’s tie in Páirc Uí Chaíomh.

Cork were strongly tipped to win this game, but their interval lead of 3-6 to 1-5 flattered them. Down were taking the game to them for most of the opening half-hour and Niamh Mallon was simply unmarkable.

However, the home side still had the composure when they needed it. The Down goal, kicked to the net by Boyle after Mallon’s huge free had come off the left upright, took the visitors into a 1-3 to 0-3 lead, Mallon having clipped over the three Down points.

A minute later Katrina Mackey scored her second point and then in the 22nd minute took a pass from Fiona Keating to rattle the net and put her side into the lead. Niamh Mallon and Amy O’Connor swapped points and the teams seemed to be heading into the break with little between them.

However, in the four minutes of added time, O’Connor and Mackey fired home goals and changed the complex of the game.

Mallon still kept finding the range from play and from frees and Dearbhla Magee was strong in defence. However, Ali Smith came off the bench to grab three points in the final 10 minutes as Cork went on to a comprehensive victory.

Galway picked up their second victory of the campaign to seal a spot in the knock-out stages before heading to Liatroim on July 1 to take on Down in their final group game.

They got a stiff test from Clare in Cusack Park, Ennis before securing a 1-13 to 0-13 triumph. ?

Seven different scorers contributed to Galway’s total, but it was the Clare defensive unit that stood out. The teams were locked on 0-6 each at the break and it was Siobhán McGrath’s goal with just over a minute of the second half gone that ultimately proved the difference. ?

Points from Lorna McNamara and Orlaith Duggan brought Clare to within two but that was as close as they got with Galway managing keep them at arm’s length.