Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Saffrons put up a fight but Offaly go through

Ladies Football

Antrim ladies were rocked by a trio of goals as Offaly took the honours in the Division Four semi-final at Inniskeen, winning 3-8 to 0-10.

The Saffrons had qualified for the knockout stages of the league without hitting full stride this season but the 2012 All-Ireland junior winners wanted to try and pick up the tempo as a new championship season looms on the horizon.

The match gave Antrim the chance to try and overcome an Offaly side that had beaten them earlier in the league campaign.

The Leinster side had also finished top of the division but the match went to form in terms of this year's league standings.

Kirsty McGuinness posted a brace of early points for Antrim in response to Offaly scores from Mairead Daly and Linda Sullivan.

Mariosa McGourty and McGuinness soon had Antrim two in front but a cracking goal by Mairead Daly gave Offaly a 1-2 to 0-4 advantage heading for the latter stages of the opening half.

Lorraine Keenan, Sullivan (0-2) and Daly extended the Leinster team's lead by half-time to 1-6 to 0-4, leaving the Saffrons with plenty of work for the last half hour.

Plucky Antrim turned round in determined mood as McGuinness pointed at the double to give her side some impetus. Offaly, though, took a significant step towards victory when Linda Sullivan scored their second goal.

Maebh McCurdy replied with an Antrim point and Mairead Cooper was then denied by the woodwork prior to a further Sullivan point at the other end.

Antrim, to their credit, kept battling away as McGuinness and Clare Timoney tagged on points. But a second Sullivan goal after 57 minutes put paid to Antrim's chances despite a late Cooper point for the Saffron girls.

There's triple Ulster interest in next weekend's series of ladies league semi-finals. Monaghan v Mayo tops the bill in Division One, with Down meeting Longford and Armagh playing Tipperary in a brace of Division Three semis.

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