By Jackie Cahill at Croke Park
Longford 4-10 Antrim 1-12
A second-half goal glut sealed a first TG4 All-Ireland junior ladies football title since 1997 for Michael Bohan’s Longford at Croke Park this afternoon.
Midfielder Jacinta Brady claimed the player of the match award as the Midlanders ended a 19-year wait for national silverware.
In a quite incredible game, Longford overturned a nine-point half-time deficit to win with seven to spare.
Seven minutes before half-time, Longford trailed by 0-2 to 1-8 but three unanswered points before the break kept Bohan’s charges in touch, down by 0-5 to 1-8.
The second half was superb from a Longford viewpoint as substitutes Aoife Darcy and Aisling Reynolds made big scoring impacts.
Bohan ran his bench early – three subs introduced in the first half and another at the break.
Ultimately, it was a run of 3-8 without reply that ensured West County Hotel Cup glory for Longford – as they tagged on an unanswered 3-5 after the interval.
Antrim went without a score from the 23rd minute until 12 minutes from time as Longford ran riot.
Brady’s 34th minute goal sparked the revival but Longford’s next two goals had more than a hint of good fortune about them.
The approach work was excellent, however, but Emer Heaney’s 36th minute goal was deflected into the net by back-tracking Sarah Haughey.
And two minutes later, Darcy’s shot was deflected in by Antrim wing-back Eleanor Mallon.
As Longford continued to press, they were eight points clear when Orla Noonan fired over a fine point in the 42nd minute – a score that represented a massive 17-point turnaround when their first half deficit is taken into account.
It appeared that Antrim were on their way to a third junior title win in eight seasons when they stormed into that big first half lead.
Claire Timoney banged home a super goal in the 12th minute to rock Longford back on their heels and it appeared that Longford were out of luck before half-time when Heaney’s shot struck the crossbar.
But they were rewarded with a sparkling second half display and Aishling Greene’s goal with six minutes remaining was the icing on the cake for electric Longford.
Teams and scorers:
Scorers for Longford: A Reynolds 0-5 (1f), J Brady, A Greene & A Darcy 1-1 each, E Heaney 1-0, O Noonan & L Burke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Antrim: C Timoney 1-3 (0-2f), E Gallagher 0-4 (1f), M Cooper & M McGourty 0-2 each, Á Devlin 0-1.
LONGFORD: M Kilkenny; S Hughes, L Keegan, M O’Reilly; C Farrell, E Dooley, M Moore; J Brady, M Reynolds; C Delaney, O Noonan, A.M. Bratton; A Greene, E Heaney, L Burke.
Subs: M Noonan for O’Reilly (15), A Darcy for Delaney (20), A Reynolds for Burke (23), M Farrell for Dooley (h.t.), A Duffy for Moore (53).
ANTRIM: C Drain; S Tennyson, E Kelly, S Haughey; E Mallon, S Cochrane, J McCavana; C Carey, D O’Kane; M Cooper, C Timoney, M McGourty; A McFarland, E Gallagher, Á Devlin.
Subs: Á Tubridy for O’Kane (32), A McCann for Drain (43), C Dahunsi for E Kelly (48), N Kelly for Cochrane (53), M McCurdy for McGourty (55).
Referee: J Murphy (Carlow).