Gaelic Games

Wicklow defeat Antrim in junior final

Antrim were appearing in the final for the first time since 2016

Wicklow staved off an Antrim comeback to win the All-Ireland Ladies Junior Championship final 2-17 to 1-9 at Croke Park.

Meadhbh Deeney got the crucial second goal as Mark Murnaghan’s side made up for defeat in last year’s decider.

Wicklow led 0-10 to 0-3 at the break before Clodagh Fox scored the first goal after the restart.

Gráinne McLaughlin pulled a goal back for the Saffrons but Deeney immediately killed off the revival.

Antrim were playing in their first final since 2016, when they lost to Longford.

They looked in real trouble as they trailed by 0-6 to 0-0 after 11 minutes but they got their first point moments later when McLaughlin fired over from the ground.

Wicklow held that five-point advantage up to the first water break and Catherine Dempsey extended it with her second score.

The Saffrons started to provide more of a threat up front with McLaughlin scoring a couple of points either side of another Fox effort.

Fox and Kealy combined to bring Wicklow’s tally into double-digits and the deserved to be seven points clear at the interval.

Antrim needed to start quickly in the second half but instead Wicklow found the net through Fox in the 31st minute when she got through Áine Tubridy’s tackle and finished high past Anna McCann.

Wicklow were 1-15 to 0-5 ahead at the second water break only for McLaughlin to score a stunning goal in the 52nd minute when she rocketed a shot low to Linda Dempsey’s bottom left corner.

However, one minute later Deeney put the game beyond doubt when she scrambled the ball over the line, and after McLaughlin’s later penalty cleared the Wicklow crossbar, the Leinster side cruised to victory.

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