Antrim: 2 – 9; Laois: 2 – 7
Scorers: Laois – Aine Mahony 2 – 0, Louise Mahony 0 – 4 (3f), Sharon Moylan 0 – 2, Sarah Anne Fitzgerald 0 – 1.
Antrim – Jane Adams 1 – 7 (5f, 1 æ45), Orla McCaul 1 – 0, Mairead Graham 0 – 1, Shannon Graham 0 – 1.
Antrim put paid to Laois’ hope of gaining a place in the National League Division 3 Final against Offaly, at an exciting match in Ashbourne on Sunday. Conditions at the pitch were very wet and heavy but stood up to a close inspection by the referee before the match commenced.
Antrim won the ball from the throw in and went on an immediate attack. Laois were saved from going a goal down in the first minute by a great Laura Dunne save. But Laois hadn’t time to take a breath as Antrim were back attacking again and a free in their favour saw Jane Adams fire over her first of the day. Laura Dunne was called on again and she cleared up the field where, Antrim centre back, Mairead Graham was waiting. She was fouled and stood up to take her own free. Her powerful shot sailed over the bar. It was all Antrim at this stage, with Laois finding it difficult to get to grips with this strong side, with Louise Mahony seeing two frees going wide when Laois needed it most. Laura Dunne brought off another great save for Laois but Jane Adams was on hand again and sent over another point for the Saffrons. Laois were struggling and were dealt another blow when Orla McCaul lifted the ball from the mud at the goals and smashed to the back of the Laois net.
However Laois did not give in that easily, Mags Kelly gathered from Sharon Moylan and passed to Sinead Lanham who found Aine Mahony who delivered to the back of the Antrim goal. Louise Mahony followed with two pointed frees to reduce the gap to the minimum. Sharon Graham got one back for Antrim. A yellow card for Antrim midfielder Michaela Convery saw Louise Mahony point the resultant free. She was on target again having received a pass from Eimear Delaney to see Laois draw level. Sharon Moylan, now playing at half forward tapped over another. Jane Adams having a great game for Antrim was causing Laois a lot of problems, she completed the first half scoring with a trio of points, (two from frees) to leave Antrim ahead 1-7 to 1-5 at half time.
Laois started the second half in an attacking mode and Christine Doherty, in the Antrim goal, made two great saves to deny them a score. Antrim continued to attack and the Laois backs were under constant pressure. Eimear Moynan was kept busy and stood up to the challenge. Finally Adams notched up two points for Antrim from a 45 and a free. Aine Mahony responded for Laois smashing the ball to the back of the net for a great goal. Elaine Mahony was instrumental for the next two Laois points feeding Sarah Ann Fitzgerald and Sharon Moylan for two fine points. Laois were a point up at this stage and with minutes to go Adams won the ball near the half back line and went on a solo run dodging through the Laois defence and smashed home for the score of the match. Back up at the other end Laois tried to break through the Antrim defence but they remained solid until the referee blew the final whistle leaving the full time score – Antrim 2-9 Laois 2-7.
This was probably the toughest and most physical game Laois played in over twelve months. Having been promoted to Division 3 this year the Laois girls were aiming to reach the league final and a possible further promotion. But they seemed to lack the usual fluency they normally display and their style of play of lifting and running with the ball was severely hampered by the heavy underfoot conditions. Antrim were quick, tough and skilful and had the capacity to pick out each other with deadly accuracy. Jane Adams was as ever the corner stone of the Antrim attack and her many years of experience showed in her superior display. Christine Doherty also had a great game between the posts with substitute Grainne Connolly at full back and Mairead Graham at centre back were very strong. Rhona Torney at midfield and forwards Sharon Graham and Orla McCaul also proved very strong for Antrim
For Laois Laura Dunne was great in defence of her net. Eimear Moynan had a great game at full back with Elaine Downey and Bridgie Cuddy also working hard. Louise Mahony, Eimear Delaney also worked hard while Aine Mahony got two great goals when Laois needed them.
Laois now face Kilkenny in the first round of the Leinster Championship next Sunday. They have to dust themselves off after their disappointment of this loss and get it together for another challenging game.
Laura Dunne, Sinead Delaney, Eimear Moynan, Caitriona Downey, Elaine Downey, Sarah Cuddy, Brigie Cuddy, Sharon Moylan, Louise Mahony, Elaine Mahony, Sarah Anne Fitzgerald, Eimear Delaney, Mags Kelly, Sinead Lanham, Aine Mahony,
Subs: Theresa Bennett for M.Kelly, Patricia Bergin.
Christine Doherty, Kelly Maybin, Danielle Clarke, Orla Donnelly, Coleen Doherty, Mairead Graham, Bernie McKinley, Michaela Convery, Rhona Torney, Lucia Dowds, Jane Adams, Ashline McCaul, Shannon Graham, Charlene Hamill, Orla McCaul,
Grainne Connolly for Danielle Clarke, Clare Laverty, Sinead Laverty, Teresa Adams, Louise McAleese, Emma Connolly, Brenda Clarke, Cathy Carey, Aqileen Martin, Suzie Devlin, Sarah McNicholl, Joanne Campbell, Catherine MaCauley, Katy McAleese, Brianna McDonnell.