Ladies promotion hopes take a hit at the Dub
By Kevin Herron
Antrim Ladies 2-12-3-12 Roscommon Ladies
Antrim ladies hopes of finishing in the promotion places took a hit as they were defeated by Roscommon at the Dub on Saturday afternoon. Having defeated Limerick last week Antrim knew that a victory over Roscommon would secure a place in the promotion play offs with a game over Derry still to come, while the visitors Roscommon travelled to Belfast knowing that defeat would perhaps cost them their playoff place. It was very much all to play for.
The Rossie’s dominated from the off and were off the mark after 20 seconds. Having won the ball from the throw in Roscommon quickly played the ball into the forward line and corner forward Niamh Ward picked up possession and found the net with a superb finish past Ciara McCoy. The visitors strong start continued as they added a further two scores through Rachel Ryan and Natalie McHugh as they established a five point lead after three minutes 0-00-1-02. It took Antrim almost five minutes before they could find a reply to Roscommon’s early scores as Mariosa McGourty sent the ball over the bar to reduce the deficit to four. This was short-lived though as first Natalie McHugh added her second point a minute later, before Rachel Ryan was afforded too much time and space to fire a second goal past Ciara McCoy and put Roscommon eight points to the good after eight minutes 0-01-2-03.
Antrim were shell-shocked and faced a massive task in order to get anything from the game. They got their second score of the game with an Aimee McAtamney score, before Clare Timoney converted two to reduce the gap to five points. Roscommon continued to cause Antrim problems; Cliodhna McHugh increased the Rossie’s lead to six points with a fine score and only for a wonderful stop from Antrim keeper Ciara McCoy, Niamh Ward may have had her second goal of the day and Roscommon could have been out of sight again. Instead Mairead Cooper reduced arrears to five with a fine point a minute later. Antrim began to take control off the game in the final ten minutes of the half and the Roscommon lead was soon cut to two points before the break. Clare Timoney demonstrated her accurate free taking with two scores, with a point from play in between. Just before the break Niamh Ward pointed for the visitors to leave a three point margin between the sides at the break 0-08-2-05.
Within two minutes of the restart Roscommon continued were they left off at the end of the half. A foul inside the Antrim half gave Natalie McHugh the chance from the free and McHugh dually converted the chance to put four between the teams. Mairead Cooper keep Antrim in touch a minute later with a fine point, before the Rossie’s took firm control of the game once more. Aine O’Brien restored Roscommon’s four point lead on 35 minutes and Niamh Ward added a second consecutive score minutes later. On 42 minutes Roscommon effectively killed off any chance of an Antrim comeback, when Natalie McHugh picked up the ball in a dangerous position before rifling past Ciara McCoy to put the Rossie’s in firm control with an eight point lead 0-09-3-08.
In need of some quick scores Antrim pressed hard and were rewarded with two points; the first a fine point from Mairead Cooper before Mariosa McGourty turned the ball over the bar to put six between the teams 0-11-3-08. On 48 minutes Antrim almost halved the deficit when Mairead Cooper went through one on one with Carol Manning, only for the Roscommon goal keeper to palm the ball over the bar to safety to the relief of her team mates as Antrim had to make do with the point. Rachel Ryan increased Roscommon’s lead minutes later a brilliantly executed point. With nine minutes remaining Antrim had a glimmer of hope when a foul on Mairead Cooper resulted in the referee awarding a penalty. Despite Antrim’s first choice penalty taker Kirsty McGuiness being unavailable Clare Timoney proved she was up to the task as she smashed the ball past Carol Manning to put three between the sides 1-12-3-09.
Roscommon refused to hesitate and responded with three scores of their own to put the game to bed. Natalie McHugh punished Antrim for their indiscipline with a score from a free, before Rachel Ryan and wing half forward Laura Brudell restored the Rossie’s six point lead with time almost up. Antrim found a consolation score in injury time after a foul on Mairead Cooper in the area gave the saffron a second penalty in in the space of ten minutes. Clare Timoney stepped up and slotted the ball past Carol Manning, but it was too little too late as Roscommon held on for a victory which secured a place in the promotion semi-finals. Antrim meanwhile get a second bite of the cherry with a rearranged game against Derry to come on Wednesday evening. The Saffron’s will be disappointed at conceding the two early goals which cost them dearly throughout as they were forced to chase, though they can take heart from their refusal to give in and let Roscommon romp to victory. Brian Coyle will hope to welcome back influential players such as Kirsty McGuiness, Maebhdh Laverty, Niamh Adams, Sarah Haughey and Maeve McCurdy against Derry on Wednesday night in a game Antrim must win to take qualify for the promotion semi-finals.
Antrim team: Ciara McCoy, Rebekah Hemsworth, Emma Kelly, Niamhin Cooper, Aine Tubridy, Nicole Kelly, Cathy Carey, Catherine Mullan, Gerardine McGinley, Mairead Cooper, Clare Timoney, Aimee McAtamney, Abi Carleton, Mariosa McGourty, Anna Finnegan. Subs: Aoife McAteer, Nicole Rafferty, Helen Ward.
Roscommon team: Carol Manning, Sarah Brady, Niamh O’Beirne, Gillian Dufficy, Amanda McCloone, Sinead Kenny, Laura Fleming, Jenny Higgins, Tara Taylor, Cliodhna McHugh, Natalie McHugh, Laura Brudell, Niamh Ward, Rachel Ryan, Aine O’Brien.