All Ireland Minor B Shield Final
There was heartbreak for Antrim at the Morgan Athletic Grounds in Armagh on Monday last as they lost their All Ireland minor final by a just a single point. Brian Coyle’s Saffron side were undone by an injury time goal. Despite this the girls can hold their heads high as they played their part in a wonderful contest.
Louth had a dream start with Shauna Finn drilling the ball to the Antrim net after just three minutes. The Saffron girls were denied a goal of their own in the eighth minute when Anna Finnegan’s shot was brilliantly saved by Coirin Rice in the wee county nets. Antrim did open their account before the end of the first quarter when Kirsty Mc Guinness fired over a close range free. The St. Paul’s player then doubled her tally with another free to leave just one between the sides. Louth then got a really lucky break. Centre forward Grace Rogers pulled on a ball from 35 yards and while she was hoping for a point, it sailed straight into the top corner for the most brilliant and yet fortunate goal. A quick point followed from Rogers and now Louth were five ahead. Antrim to their credit never gave up and an eight minute purple patch yielded seven consecutive points. Kirsty Mc Guinness fired over three while Maeve Mc Curdy and Anna Finnegan contributed a couple each. Louth added late points through Maria Reid and Rebecca Carr to leave the game tied at the break 0-9 to 2-3.
Early in the second half Reid put Louth back in front but the lead didn’t last long as Mc Guinness and Finnegan added to their tallies. Another point from Carr levelled the game for the fourth time however disaster then struck for Antrim. Entering the final quarter their Captain Kirsty Mc Guinness picked up a nasty leg injury which forced her out of the game. Anna Finnegan then traded points with Aoife Murtagh and Shauna Finn to leave the game all square for the sixth time. With five minutes remaining Maeve Mc Curdy burst through the Louth defence and unleashed an unstoppable shot. The resulting goal gave the Saffrons a three point cushion with time running out. Louth continued to press and were rewarded with another Rogers point. Deep in injury time it looked like Antrim were going to secure the title but Louth corner forward Shauna Finn had other ideas. She managed to nip in front of her marker and powerfully palm a speculative effort to the Antrim net. Despite rallying once again time ran out and it was to be Louth’s day by the narrowest of margins.
Brian Coyle can be very proud of his side. They never gave up and showed great courage and commitment throughout. The loss of Kirsty Mc Guinness was crucial. There is no doubt that had she remained on the pitch she would have added to her five point tally. There was some small consolation for Antrim as their centre forward Anna Finnegan picked up the player of the match award.
Speaking after the game a very disappointed Brian Coyle said, “I thought we had it and then two minutes into injury time they scored a dubious goal. We scored 1-13 and with that you expect to win but it wasn’t to be. I suppose in the end it was down to the goals they scored three and we scored one”.