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Third quarter meltdown puts paid to Antrim ladies' dream

All-Ireland ladies JFC final: Antrim 1-12 Longford 4-10

By Declan Bogue

Published 26/09/2016

Joy and pain: Longford’s Leanne Keegan, Michelle Noonan and Claire Farrell celebrate while Eimaer Gallagher finds defeat hard to take
Joy and pain: Longford’s Leanne Keegan, Michelle Noonan and Claire Farrell celebrate while Eimaer Gallagher finds defeat hard to take
Antrim’s Aisling McFarland battles with Jacinta Brady

Amazing as it sounds, but another two own goals in an All-Ireland final - coming a week after it scuppered Mayo - helped Longford overturn what was a nine-point deficit to deservedly win the All-Ireland Ladies' Junior football final.

Seamus McKenna's Saffron girls will look at the third quarter of the game, in which they conceded 3-5, and could not break the sequence of scoring, as their obvious downfall.

And yet the foundations for victory were laid with an extremely impressive opening period. In the first three minutes, the sense of occasion possibly got to the Saffron ladies as they shot three wides from Eimear Gallagher, Saoirse Tennyson and Aine Devlin.

However, an interception from captain Jenny McCavana prompted a flowing series of passes through Deirdre O'Kane, Mairéad Cooper to Mairíosa McGourty, who slotted over in the fifth minute to open their account.

Although Longford replied instantly from the restart with a Laura Burke point, Antrim went on to hit 1-5 without reply. The goal came when Clare Timoney made a run from deep, and, using Cooper's supporting run as a decoy, placed a classy finish into the goal stanchion past Longford 'keeper Michelle Kilkenny.

Timoney also added two frees herself in this period, as Longford struggled to come to terms with the onslaught.

Things got better for Miceal Bohan's ladies after he made three first-half substitutes, and of that number Aoife Darcy and Aisling Reynolds made scoring contributions.

Jacinta Brady potted a lovely goal. An Emer Heaney shot was deflected to the net by Sarah Haughey and a minute later, disaster struck when Eleanor Mallon's attempted block from an Aoife Darcy shot spun into the net.

With Clare Timoney playing in her last game before she emigrates to Canada, she threatened to inspire a comeback and Antrim ate into the Longford lead.

Cooper, another lively presence who kept going to the end clipped over a point.

McCavana also came back strongly and was involved in getting forward and involving herself in two Gallagher points. But a late goal chance was averted by some smart Longford defending.

It was left to Aisling Greene to have the final word, when she picked up a ricochet to thump to the net for Longford's final goal as they coasted home.

 

ANTRIM: C Drain; S Tennyson, E Kelly, S Haughey 1-0, OG; E Mallon 1-0 OG, S Cochrane, J McCavana; C Carey, D O'Kane; M Cooper 0-2, C Timoney 1-3, 2f, M McGourty 0-2; A McFarland, E Gallagher 0-4 1f, A Devlin 0-1

Subs: A Tuibridy for O'Kane (31), A McCann for Drain (43), C Dahunsi for Kelly (50), N Kelly for Cochrane (54), M McCurdy for McGourty (54)

LONGFORD: M Kilkenny; S Hughes, L Keegan, M O'Reilly; C Farrell, E Dooley, M Moore; J Brady 1-1, M Reynolds; C Delaney, O Noonan 0-1, AM Bratton; A Greene 1-1, E Heaney, L Burke 0-1

Subs: M Noonan for O'Reilly (16), A Darcy 0-1, for Delaney (20), A Reynolds 0-5, 1f, for Burke (24), M Farrell for Dooley (H-time), A Duffy for Moore (54),

Referee: Jonathan Murphy (Carlow)

Belfast Telegraph

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