LOSING the Ulster final to Down was the “wake-up call” Antrim needed to sharpen the focus for a tilt at the All-Ireland series says attacking ace Caitrín Dobbin.
The Saffrons were five-point winners (1-15 to 0-14) over Limerick on Saturday’s All-Ireland opener after going eight points ahead but needed to hang tough in the third quarter in the eye of a comeback.
“Going in at half-time, we had a good lead,” Dobbin told Gaelic Life. “Limerick knew they had nothing to lose and threw everything at us.”
Antrim struggled to get hands on the sliotar as it broke under puck-outs, but frees from Roisin McCormick kept the scoreboard ticking during a 15-minute spell of Limerick pressure.
They managed to keep their noses in front. It was all about sticking to their plan and avoiding any signs of panic.
“We worked very hard over the last three weeks just to try and reset after that match (Ulster final defeat) because it didn’t go great for us…Down are a great team,” she added. The hard yards were done and levels of work were ramped up. There was the regret of not making use of their firepower as Down took the provincial silver.
“Limerick put us out of the championship last year so we wanted to prove a point to ourselves and it was great to get the win,” she added. Antrim’s league campaign was based around giving it a “good lash” but a disappointing performance against Waterford left them playing catch-up in terms of qualification for the knock-out stages.
“Then, we went in against Wexford and they only beat us by a couple points. It was a good tight game and that was what we were after,” Dobbin said, thinking back to Wexford’s three goals in an electric start Antrim didn’t recover from in last year’s league decider. Antrim were still content with their building process through the league with Dobbin among the Loughgiel and Brídíní Ógacontingent coming back after a two-week break on the back of their All-Ireland campaign.
“We had to take the two weeks because it was straight into county and then into club again when that is over, so there is no rest at all,” Dobbin added, praising the county management team for their excellent approach under manager Elaine Dowds.
Antrim have a weekend off ahead or their next date, a rematch with an Offaly team they drew with in the league earlier in the year.
“They’ll be up for it, they’ll know they have to win this I’d and I’d say they will have us targeting as a team to beat after drawing with them in the league,” Dobbin said of their next test. We know it will be a different game and every team is different come championship.”