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All-Ireland title bid is on our radar: Carr

Antrim 0-10 Down 2-8

Bigger goal: Down skipper Fionnuala Carr is eyeing an All-Ireland title bid after lifting the Ulster Camogie Championship
Bigger goal: Down skipper Fionnuala Carr is eyeing an All-Ireland title bid after lifting the Ulster Camogie Championship
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Down captain Fionnuala Carr today finds herself living in a sporting dreamland now that her team has retained the Ulster senior camogie championship title which they won last year after a 13-year wait.

But another dream is already taking shape as the Mourne girls set their sights on an All-Ireland assignment against Tipperary.

"We had to wait a very long time before last year's title came along and now that we have won back-to-back Ulster crowns we're in dreamland but we will not lose any time in getting down to business again," stated Carr.

"Our aim now will be to try and claim All-Ireland success. We didn't think we could land two provincial titles but now that we have achieved that we want to build on it."

"When you think about it, I was fortunate to be part of the Clonduff club which won the Ulster and All-Ireland intermediate titles so it has been a roller coaster of success but it's now on to the All-Ireland scene and that is a much more pressurised zone."

It was the experience of Carr and her sister Sara Louise along with the accuracy of Niamh Mallon, the midfield authority of Aimee McAleenan and the tenacity of a solid defence that ultimately saw Down ascend the Ulster throne.

Yet their whirlwind start yesterday during which they hit 1-3 within the opening 10 minutes was to prove something of a false dawn.

Niamh Mallon's goal in the fifth minute was complemented by a brace of points from Sara Louise Carr, Fionnuala's sister, and another from Orla Gribben, but Antrim gradually found their feet.

Five points from the devastatingly accurate Katie McAleese brought the Saffrons back into the picture although Niamh Mallon pilfered another point to give her side a 1-4 to 0-5 interval lead.

Two further Mallon points eased Down into a more comfortable position early in the second half but although Bronagh Orchin and McAleese swept over points for Antrim, the pendulum swung more decisively in Down's favour when Sara Louise Carr drilled in their second goal after yet another Mallon effort had been only partially cleared.

At 2-7 to 0-7 Down, more economical and enterprising, looked set to cruise home but Antrim refused to throw in the towel and three late points saw them trim their opponents' winning margin.

Antrim tended to rely too heavily on the free-taking of McAleese and the fact that only two other players - skipper Niamh Donnelly and Bronagh Orchin - scored, underlined the team's overall lack of forward power.

The side showed character in responding to Down's opening blast but overall they lacked penetration and fluency.

Even the introduction of the highly-rated Roisin McCormick as well as Victoria Edgar failed to get them back in the game.

Down: C McGourty; N Kelly, A Savage, C McGilligan; K McMullan, F Carr, C Rocks; A McAleenan, A Keown; S L Carr 1-2, S McCartan, P Gribben 0-1; N Mallon 1-4, C Caldwell, O Gribben 0-1. Subs: K Tinnelly for Savage (25 mins), D Harrison for McCartan (45), K Cunningham for O Gribben (61).

Antrim: M Coyle; M Lynn, C Conlon, C Drain; E Hynds, N Donnelly 0-1, L McKenna; A Boyle, M Kelly; B Orchin 0-1, K McAleese 0-8 (7f), A Donnelly; L McNaughton, F McVeigh, M Laverty. Subs: R McCormick for McVeigh (20), V Edgar for Lynn (45),

Referee: Eamon Cassidy (Derry).

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