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Antrim come out on top in breathtaking Sligo encounter

4th March 2024


Antrim came out on top in a breathtaking affair at Coláiste Feirste to leapfrog Sligo in Division 3 and stave off the threat of relegation. With the home side heavily depleted through injury, Antrim manager Emma Kelly was forced to come out of retirement as she played between the sticks.

Antrim started strongly, quick out of the blocks. Lara Dahunsi ran at Sligo but hit the upright with her maiden attack, while Sligo fired wide at the other end. Cliodhna Logan opened the scoring for the Saffs, but Cora Gilligan struck a blow with a goal to put the visitors in front, and Megan McCormack pointed to extend the lead to three. Points for Bláithín Ní Cathail and Aoife Taggart closed the gap to the minimum, but two quick points from Sligo’s Rianne Smith restored the advantage. Sligo had goalkeeper problems of their own as a collision saw keeper Ellen McGuire having to retire midway through the period. Hannah Donaghy pointed for Antrim and Taggart got her second of the day as the game settled into a rhythm, with Antrim making good ground in Sligo territory with good overlapping runs but yielding no scores. Smith scored again for the visitors and it looked as though they were heading in at the break with a lead, but Logan got her second and Dahunsi opened her account for the day to ensure the sides were level at the interval.

HALF TIME: Antrim 0-7 Sligo 1-4

Taggart scored again just after the restart to put Antrim back in the lead, with captain Ciara Brown stretching the advantage. A free from the edge of the D saw Rianne Smith drop the ball in over the head of the Antrim backs and into the net to put the Yeat’s Ladies back in front. It was short-lived, however, as Ní Cathail scored again to level and Dahunsi quickly fired the Ulsterwomen back in front. But again Sligo’s McCormack leveled. Gilligan saw yellow for a dangerous push in the back, and Antrim made good use of their numerical advantage. Four points, two apiece for Caitlin Taggart and substitute Ellie Murphy, put Antrim four points to the good, but when Gilligan was reintroduced, Smith bagged another goal and a point to square the game again.

Then came Antrim’s shock and awe. Replacement keeper Macayla Burke made a foot block and was sent to the sideline on a yellow. With Sligo forced to put an outfielder in between the sticks, Hanna Donaghy stepped up and slotted past her. With Antrim now in the lead by three, Glenavy’s Ana Mulholland was clean through, her shot hit the crossbar, crossed the line, and bounced back out. The umpires stood motionless, but Mulholland was quick on the rebound, palming the ball into the net and sealing a six-point, and maiden victory in Division 3 for Antrim.

FINAL SCORE: Antrim 2-15 Sligo 3-6

Antrim’s next two games are a St. Patrick’s Day trip to Ennis to face Clare and the visit of Roscommon a week later in Belfast. Both those sides occupy the top places in the division and will likely contest the division final.

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