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 six-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 3-08 without reply that ensured West County Hotel Cup glory for Longford – as they tagged on an unanswered 3-05 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.
Longford: M Kilkenny; S Hughes, L Keegan, M O’Reilly; C Farrell, E Dooley, M Moore; J Brady (1-1), M Reynolds; C Delaney, O Noonan (0-1), A.M. Bratton; A Greene (1-1), E Heaney (1-0), L Burke (0-1).
Subs: M Noonan for O’Reilly (15), A Darcy (1-1) for Delaney (20), A Reynolds (0-5, 1f) 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 (0-2), C Timoney (1-3, 0-2f), M McGourty (0-2); A McFarland, E Gallagher (0-4, 1f), Á Devlin (0-1).
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).