Ulster derby win sees Antrim get off to strong start


ANTRIM’S camogs got their new league campaign off to a flying start on Saturday, as they overcame Ulster rivals Down in a rampant 5-14 to 0-14 win.

Even more remarkable than the 15-point margin of victory was the fact that Antrim were trailing by one at half-time. Manager Elaine Dowds described the win as a ‘fantastic start’.

“We know each other inside-out at this point,” she said of Down.

“They got off to a great start; very physical, and very attacking.

“It took us a while to settle into the game and maybe even adjust to that level of physicality, but we did enough in the first half to keep us in the game.

“Turning things around in the second half showed fair resilience by us and we played more our style of camogie rather than reacting to what Down were doing.

“The girls were absolutely buzzing at the end and really pleased with how they’d performed in the second half. It’s a fantastic start to the league for us.”

As for what changed at the break, Dowds wouldn’t go into too much detail, but sometimes all it takes are a couple of tactical tweaks to turn a game around.

“I won’t go into what was said in the changing room at half-time but the girls maybe realised that their performance up to that point was below par,” she said.

“We made a few positional switches, where Caoimhe Conlon and Lucia McNaughton both dropped back a line, as did Roisin McCormick and this seemed to steady things up a bit, as well as just open up the whole play to work in our favour.”

As for their high goal tally – Dowds said that being clinical is a priority for her side.

“Settling quickly, staying focused on what’s going on, team play and movement were things that we’ve worked on,” she said.

“Taking any scoring opportunity that comes up is a priority as is being as clinical as possible. Obviously, we’ll take as many goals as we can get.”

Up next for Antrim is Limerick, and they will be hoping to reverse the fortunes of last year’s championship encounter, when Limerick came out 1-14 to 1-11 winners.

“On that day, we were winning at half-time and they turned things around in the second half,” reflected Dowds.

“Obviously, that defeat was bitterly disappointing, and we’ll be looking an improved performance this Saturday. They were very physical last year, and bullied us a bit, so Saturday’s game against Down will hopefully stand to us a bit and have us more mentally prepared for the type of game we’re likely to encounter this weekend.”

As for their league aspirations this year, the priority is to stay at the top table, and continue playing Division One camogie next year.

“We want to win enough games to stay up in Division One for next year,” said Dowds.

“We’ll use the league as preparation games for the Senior Championship, but ultimately we’ll just take it one game at a time and see where it takes us.”

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