Antrim draw with Westmeath at Cargin
Antrim V Westmeath 11th March 2018 Cargin , Toomebridge. Littlewoods, Ireland Camogie
Referee Phil McDonald , Cavan.
Antrim featured four changes from the team which lost in Cork a fortnight ago where no Saffron substitutes were available due to only 15 fit players making the long trek. For today's home game out went Nuala McQuillan, Eimhear Costello, Caoimhe McAleenan and Sarah Armstrong who were replaced by Dervla Cosgrove ,Laoise McKenna, Chloe Drain and Siobhan McKillop.
Westmeath, with victories over Carlow and Down in their first two games, were in confident mood and proved a stern test for Antrim who were hoping to add to their impressive home victory over Wexford last month. Antrim started well and took the first two scores through fine points from captain Katie McAleese and Siobhan McKillop. Westmeath were undaunted however as Sheila McGrath converted her first score of the day in response. In the sixth minute Antrim came right back with the best possible reaction in the form of an excellent goal from McKillop to warn the visitors that they were in for a tough game. Westmeath soon replied with a great point from play again via the hurl of Sheila McGrath whose pace was to trouble the Antrim defence throughout the game. Westmeath soon pulled to within a point of the Saffrons as Pamela Greville converted a free. In the 14th minute of the game Antrim scored their second goal thanks to Orlagh O'Hara whose powerful shot brought the dozen or so Antrim supporters in attendance to their feet in applause.
This was the turning point in the game however for it was the Saffron's last score of the first half as Westmeath took control of the midfield and focussed on attacking down their left wing where Antrim defenders showed a clear lack of pace against speedy corner forward Megan Dowdall and the impressive Sheila McGrath . Westmeath replied to Antrim's goal within three minutes as full Forward Mairead McCormack smashed home a goal from close range following some flat-footed defending. The visitors levelled the game for the first time in the 19th minute as Sheila McGrath took her third point and three more points in three minutes from Denise McGrath, Megan Dowdall and Sheila McGrath left Antrim facing a half time deficit of three points.
Half Time Antrim 2-02 Westmeath 1-08
Antrim began the second half with Christine Laverty replacing Dervla Cosgrove and the scoring opened with the hard working Aileen McManus converting a free for Antrim but yet again their star number 11 McGrath replied for the visitors. Katie McAleese ,who was in great form for the Saffrons pulled another point back soon after but in response Sheila McGrath added a goal to bring her total to 1-05 for the afternoon. The penny finally dropped and Antrim moved their fastest defender, Colleen Patterson onto McGrath and lo and behold ,no more scores were forthcoming from Westmeath for the rest of the game. A big push was needed as Antrim were now five points adrift and Emily Falloon for Aine Devlin and Caoimhe Wright for Siobhan McKillop were introduced to the fray. with a lot of endeavour and a little bit of luck Antrim actually pulled back the five point margin with the first coming from Orlagh O'Hara and then Captain fantastic Katie McAleese clawing back four successive points, three from frees to frustrate the visitors and win a draw with the game finishing at a score Antrim 2-09 Westmeath 2-09 . Westmeath felt that the final Antrim point from a free which levelled the game should not have been awarded but a draw was a fair result on the day in a very entertaining game of camogie. Antrim host Carlow in a fortnight and a home win for the Saffrons would be a very encouraging result and one which they are well capable of .
Antrim Line- out -N.Cosgrove , C.Donnelly, K.Donnelly, C.Patterson, D.Cosgrove, A. McManus, A.Mulholland, L.McKenna , M.Lynn, A.Donnelly, K.McAleese Capt, L.McNaughton, O. O'Hara, C.Drain, S. McKillop.
Westmeath Line-out-F.Keating , S.King, M. Scally , L. Doherty , A. O'Malley, F. Leavy, A. Cully, A.Higgins, E. Conway, D.McGrath, S.McGrath, P.Greville, O. Glynn, M. McCormack Capt , M.Dowdall.