1 Antrim left standing after thriller
ANTRIM hurlers are box office. There is always drama and buckets of scores.
Their Division One campaign ended with zero points after five games, but across all the games they were never far away and were a penalty save from a draw with Waterford.
The one that stuck in their throat was an away defeat at the hands of Laois on a day when they didn’t perform.
It set up a relegation battle with Offaly with victory retaining their top flight status.
A home game with Offaly in the Joe McDonagh Cup was out of the top drawer and a match they could’ve lost before pulling clear.
After losing to Kerry in the last game of the group, they were paired with the Kingdom in a Croke Park final. Winning the game 5-22 to 4-24 says it all. Drama, drama and more drama before the Saffrons did enough to take the title.
2 Saffrons take their second chance
IT was a season to remember for Antrim Ladies who ended 2022 as All-Ireland champions under manager Emma Kelly.
Wins over Limerick and New York booked a semi-final spot for the Saffrons against Carlow. Three goals shot them to a final and a Croke Park date with Ulster rivals Fermanagh,
On a day when they should’ve had the game out of sight, Antrim allowed the Erne County back into the game and needed a late Orlaith Prenter free to force extra time.
And so they had to do it again. This time they made no mistake. Two goals from Cathy Carey and one from Lara Dahunsi were the key scores as Antrim ended the season as champions.
At club level, Moneyglass capped off a fine season at all levels by pushing Monaghan giants Donaghmoyne every step of the way in the Ulster senior final with Prenter the star player up front.
3 Second team a success for camogs
LAST season Antrim made the decision to enter a second team to give girls a chance to develop into senior players.
It wasn’t fully operational, but this season Mark ‘Duck’ McFadden and Brian Kearney took the reins. There was training and regular games.
As the league moved into the championship, they began to get a handle on it and their only defeat in the group stages came on the wrong side of a 1-18 to 1-16 clash with Armagh.
They had a point to spare over Clare in the semi-final to pit them against Armagh in the All-Ireland final.
It turned out to be the Dervla Cosgrove show, as she struck for four goals in a match-winning performance.
The senior camogs spent the season at the top – senior – level and some the junior players could put their hands up for a place next year.
4 McEntee steps into Antrim hot seat
ENDA McGinley stepped down after his tenure as senior football manager and 2023 will begin with former Royals manager Andy McEntee in charge.
Antrim finished bang in the middle of Division Three, with three wins, three defeats and a draw away to Laois.
The concern from their championship defeat to Cavan is the level of conditioning needed to really move up the ladder.
From chatting to those involved in Gaelfast, there is a long-term target of getting Antrim teams into the MacRory Cup.
That’s not going to help McEntee next season, but a more competitive club scene with Cargin mixing it with Glen offers optimism.
5 Dunloy’s Croker adventure
AFTER winning a fourth successive Antrim hurling title, Dunloy hurlers are back on the top in Ulster and Keelan Molloy’s moment of magic shot them to January’s All-Ireland final.
Wins over Sleacht Néill, St Thomas’ set them up with a date with Ballyhale Shamrocks as they bid to win a first ever All-Ireland.
Loughgiel camogs came up short on All-Ireland final day, but Brídíní Óga have qualified for the junior decider with a one-point over Adare.
On the club football front, Cargin senior footballers got their hands on the McNamee Cup for the sixth time in eight seasons.
There was more to follow in Ulster. After pegging Naomh Conaill back, it was their star goalkeeper John McNabb who produced the goods in the penalty shoot-out.
Cargin caused Glen all sorts of problems in Ulster before Danny Tallon’s late penalty put an end to a season what restored plenty of pride and gives hope for 2023.