National League positions counted for little in Dunloy yesterday evening in a hotly contested Tailored Finances Ulster Senior camogie final.
Division 3 champions Antrim outscored Division 2 runners-up Derry by 3-6 to 1-6 to collect their 44th provincial crown and first since 2002.
Derry were hot favourites going into the game, but were forced to chase Antrim who opted to play with the aid of the breeze in the opening half.
The pace of the Saffrons forwards Shannon Graham, Orla McCaul, Michaela Convery and – of course – Jane Adams caused Derry endless problems, but it was the tight-marking of the defence that probably secured the title for Antrim.
Derry shot a lot of wides over the hour, many of them under pressure, but they will point to the timing of the three Antrim goals as the key to the game.
Jane Adams scored the opening goal – a harmless shot from 35 metres that took a fluke bounce and beat Claire O’Kane. That score gave Antrim a lot of confidence and settled them into the game.
Derry however had come back well and, although 1-4 to 0-3 down, were well placed coming into the break to use the second half breeze.
However Adams drilled home a 25 metre free a minute from half-time to really lift her side.
They fought and harried during the second half, but Derry again looked to be taking over by the three-quarter mark when Ashling Diamond and Aileen Laverty combined for a goal.
The gap had now closed to 2-5 to 1-5, but Adams went on another penetrating run and although her shot was brilliantly saved by Claire O’Kane, full-forward Ashlene McCaul poked home in a crowded square.
That 45th minute goal effectively killed the game. There was only a point each after it, with both defences on top – and Antrim’s in particular not looking likely to collapse.
Antrim : Christine Doherty, Emma Connolly, Mairead Graham, Orla Donnelly, Colleen Doherty, Kelly Maybin, Sinead Laverty, Charlene Hamill, Rhona Torney capt, Michaela Convery, Jane Adams, 2-3, 1-2 frees, Shannon Graham 0-1, Claire Laverty, Ashlene McCaul 1-0, Orlagh McCaul 0-2.
Derry : Claire O’Kane (cpt), Dervla McGuigan, Edel Henry, Ciara Cusnahan, Kate Laverty, Jane Carey, Sinead McKeever, Grainne McGoldrick 0-3, 0-2 frees, Breige Convery, Aisling Diamond 0-1, Katie McAuley, Aileen Laverty 1-0, Keelin Bradley, Oonagh Mullan 0-1, Meabh McGoldrick, 0-1.
Subs : Katrina O’Kane for O Mullan, Karen Kielt for E Henry.
Referee : Una Kearney (Armagh).
Karen Kielt, who came into the Senior final as a second half sub, earlier in the evening top-scored as Derry easily beat Down 5-12 to 0-0 in the Ulster under 16 final.
The Kilrea forward shot 1-7 with Grainne McNicholl hitting 1-2 in a disappointing final.