Antrim Under 16s Secure first All Ireland Silverware
16th July 2023
Antrim's determination to secure their first-ever All-Ireland U-16 C title in Conneff Park in Clane was unstoppable. Despite an early sending off and being reduced to 13 players in the second half, they remained in complete control of the game and emerged as convincing winners.
The attacking prowess of Erin Stewart, Katie McCloskey, Mia Dembele Mills, Hanna Donaghy, Leah Stewart, and Aoibheann Monaghan was a sight to behold, even more so after Jodie Peoples received a red card in the ninth minute. Despite the challenge of a strong wind, Antrim rose to the occasion, with Stewart and McCloskey scoring exceptional solo goals by the 18th minute, leading them to a comfortable 2-7 to 0-4 lead at halftime.
Despite better weather conditions in the second period, Antrim faced another challenge when their captain, Nicole Munce, was sin-binned. However, the Ulster team compensated for their numerical disadvantage with immense character, skill, and movement, outscoring the opposition once again.
Clare's goalkeeper, Niamh O'Loughlin, made impressive saves to deny McCloskey and Dembele Mills, and McCloskey also hit the crossbar before Stewart, who had been elusive throughout the game, secured her second goal to complete a remarkable unanswered rally of 1-4.
Even when making substitutions, Antrim continued to dominate, maintaining their intensity and creating goal-scoring opportunities for Anna McGarry and Lisa Wilson, albeit missed. Their performance built a comfortable 16-point lead.
Credit must be given to Munster champions Clare, who never gave up. Sophie Culleton, Eimear Burke, Abbie Cahill, Abi Kelly, Aisling Crowe, and Serena Clancy provided strong resistance. Despite a penalty save by Holly McGahey in injury time, Clare substitute Leah Kelly managed to score a late rebound goal.
Nevertheless, this was merely a consolation as Antrim's exceptional display was truly majestic and worthy of winning any final, let alone their first at the Under 16 level.
Scorers - Antrim: L Stewart 2-0, E Stewart 0-5 (4f), K McCloskey 1-0, H Donaghy, A McGarry 0-2 each, M Dembele Mills, L Cassidy, A Monaghan 0-1 each
Clare: S Culleton 0-4 (1f), L Kelly 1-0, A McNamara 0-1f, A Crowe 0-1.
ANTRIM: H McGahey; O Neeson, J Peoples, C Scullion; S Bradley, N Munce, L Cassidy; E Neeson, A Rice; L Stewart, M Dembele Mills, A Monaghan; E Stewart, K McCloskey, H Donaghy. Subs: A McGarry for E Neeson (ht), L Wilson for K McCloskey (49), A Fitzsimons for S Bradley (50), C Murray for M Dembele Mills (56, inj), N Dobbin for O Neeson
CLARE: N O’Loughlin; K Culligan, E Burke, A Cahill; S Clancy, Aisling Kelly, H Keating; A Crowe, R Meaney; K Darcy, S Culleton, Abi Kelly; E Nagle, Á McNamara, H O’Shea. Subs: L Kelly for H O’Shea (30+2), P O’Shea for Darcy (ht), S Griffin for R Meaney (44), H Murphy for K Culligan (59)
Referee: Angela Gallagher (Meath).