Hail All Ireland for the Saffrons junior camogs – Photo 1 of 13
Antrim 5-5, Armagh 0-14
GOALS were the order of the day in this Glen Dimplex All Ireland Premier Junior camogie final at Croke Park, not just those scored, but those stopped by brilliant goalkeeping and magnificent defensive work.
Four goals from Dervla Cosgrove, including three in less than 90 seconds in the first half and three saves from Áine Graham, were among the standout features of a game the Saffrons finally had one over their arch-rivals Armagh .
It was a remarkable end to an inaugural campaign for the county’s second string, finishing in glory at Croke Park less than a year after their flagship team achieved senior status by winning the Intermediate title.
The win suggests the Saffrons’ production line is in good working order, but Armagh will regret failing to convert even one of their goalscoring chances, while a catalog of defensive calamities has left Cosgrove for some of the easiest goals she has ever recorded.
Former Cork star Jenny Curry was a real threat for Armagh but they couldn’t provide him with a sufficient quality supply and in the second half Antrim made sure the eight-time All-Star was at least doubly attended.
Cosgrove won the player of the match applause and there could be no arguing about it with her three-goal volley in under a minute and a half ultimately deciding the game, with her fourth goal cementing the verdict.
It was last year’s minor captain Fionnuala Kelly who had the early impact, after Armagh started confidently with points from Ellie McKee and a brilliant strike from Ciara Donnelly.
The Ballycastle teenager, whose sister Maeve was player of the match in the middle decider last year, split the posts to send the side, led by Brian Kearney and Mark McFadden, out of goal and then found the net in the eighth minute following a movement. launched by Anna McNeill.
When Cosgrove’s cross was partially obliterated by Armagh’ kepoer Ciarrai Devlin, Kelly was like a lightning bolt to hit the net.
Curry, after a fantastic delivery from Donnelly, and Rachael Merry settled Armagh with points, but Cosgrove’s hat-trick between the 21st and 23rd minute blew up the game and left Jim McKernan’s side to catch up.
His defense had been absent too often during that period and the Antrim native, who was co-manager of Antrim’s successful midfield team last year, made two substitutions which helped shore things up for the girls of Orchard.
It felt like the damage was done and although Sinéád Quinn, Michelle McArdle and Donnelly (two) scored, the Orchard women trailed 4-3 at 0-9 at the break.
It could have been very different, but the goalkeeper is clearly in Graham’s genes as Áine, the sister of senior keeper Caitrin, was extremely alert between the posts. Donnelly, after being set up by Curry, also fired a butt shot from the upright.
Armagh gradually regained control in terms of the game at least in the second half, and when Curry clocked in in the seventeenth minute after a scoring shot, an easy pick-up, a side step and a finish, the margin had fallen to three.
Cosgrove’s close range finish after Devlin’s terrific save from Nuala Devlin a minute later, followed by another Graham save from McArdle helped Antrim close it out.
Antrim: A Graham, M McLarnon, E Kearns, E McShane, C Crawford, M McGarry, S Cosgrove, C Kearney, A McNeill, O Laverty, C McNaughton, Bríd Magill, E Laverty, D Cosgrove (4-2), F Kelly (1-2).
Substitutions: N Devlin for O Laverty; Bronach Magill for S Cosgrove; E Leech (0-1) for McNaughton; T O’Neill for Kelly.
Armagh: C Devlin, M Lenehan, N Woods, E O’Kane, G McCann, E Hayes, T Maguire, M McArdl (0-1), L Donnelly (0-1), C Doyle, C Donnelly (0-5 ), E McKee (0-1), R Merry (0-1), J Curry (0-2), S Quinn (0-1).
Replacements: E Lavery for Lenehan, C O’Kane for Woods; B Murray for McKee; K Comiskey (0-1) for Merry; E Smyth (0-1) for Doyle
Referee: Mike Ryan (Tipperary)