TG4 ALL-IRELAND LADIES JUNIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
ANTRIM 3-10LIMERICK 2-8
JACKIE CAHILL AT CROKE PARK
TWO goals by wing-forward Mairead Cooper proved decisive as Antrim were crowned TG4 All-Ireland ladies junior football champions at Croke Park on Sunday.
Last year’s beaten semi-finalists emerged five-point winners against Limerick to secure a place in the 2010 intermediate championship.
The Saffrons had drawn with Limerick in the group stages of the competition but the West County cup will reside in Ulster for the first time since Armagh’s victory in 2005.
Impressive full-forward Claire Timoney was Antrim’s star turn in the first half, collecting 1-3 as the winners established a 2-6 to 1-4 interval lead.
It was a game littered with goal chances and while Limerick raised the first green flag after ten minutes, Antrim were more clinical with the possession that came their way in attack.
Limerick’s top scorer Dymphna O’Brien took advantage of a mistake by Antrim goalkeeper Ciara McCoy to tap home but Cooper replied in kind seven minutes later.
Eight minutes before the break, Creggan Kickhams player Eimear Kelly placed Timoney for Antrim’s second goal and they went on to lead by five points at the break.
Limerick opened the second half in blistering fashion and after Yvette Moynihan pointed, Louise Higgins bagged a superb solo goal in the 35th minute to haul the Shannonsiders back into contention.
Higgins escaped the attentions of a number of defenders, dummied McCoy and stroked the ball into the far corner as Limerick moved to within a point of their opponents, 2-6 to 2-5.
Antrim, appearing in their very first All-Ireland final, spurned another goal chance in the 43rd minute when sub Aimee McAtamney shot straight at Ella O’Shaughnessy but the Ulster outfit remained comfortable nonetheless.
With six minutes remaining, sub Leanne Higgins brought Limerick to within two points, 2-10 to 2-8, but Cooper raised clear three minutes later to net her second goal and put real daylight between the teams.
Cooper was denied a hat-trick in the final minute when her rasping drive struck the crossbar and rebounded to safety but by then, victory was already assured.
Scorers for Antrim: C Timoney 1-5, (0-2f), M Cooper 2-1, C Kelly & E Gallagher (1f) 0-2 each.
Scorers for Limerick: D O’Brien 1-4 (0-1f), Louise Higgins 1-0, Y Moynihan, T Mulcaire, K Campbell & Leanne Higgins 0-1 each.
ANTRIM: C McCoy; Eimear Kelly (St Ergnats, Moneyglass), B Scullion, G Campbell; N Kelly, C Mullan, D McAteer; G McCann, M McCann; Eimear Kelly (Creggan Kickhams), S Daykin, M Cooper; C Kelly, C Timoney, B McClenaghan.
Subs: E Gallagher for E Kelly (Creggan Kickhams) (h/t), C Carey for Daykin (46), A McElroy for Cooper (60).
LIMERICK: E O’Shaughnessy; M O’Brien, S Healy, T Power; E McGuire, H Fogarty, S Larkin; P Donnelly, Y Moynihan, T Mulcaire; K Campbell, Louise Higgins, D O’Brien.
Subs: E Enright for Larkin (20), N Richardson for Moloney (h/t), Leanne Higgins for Power (40), M.I. Casey for Garvey (50).
Referee: T Lennon (Dublin).