You wait 13 years for your first Ulster Senior Camogie title and then two come all within the same year - well that’s how it panned out for Down on Sunday and they were worthy victors.
Down camogie captain Fionnuala Carr was lost for words.
“I didn’t think that I would ever be an Ulster champion at all but then to get two in two years in a row is very special and one that I will definitely enjoy,” said Carr.
“I can’t put into words the 12 months that we have had. First of all with our club [Clonduff] getting our county title, our first Ulster title and then getting to Croke Park and finishing off in March with the All-Ireland, and with the county winning back-to-back Ulsters, as well as reaching the All-Ireland final.
“If you could write a book, you would write it this way and it is not something that I take for granted at all. We have put so much into it to get here and we really are grateful for a lot of things and I am over the moon really.”
Down got off to cracking start with Niamh Mallon’s goal coming in the second minute and by the seventh minute they led 1-03 to no score, but they failed to build on that momentum and Antrim took advantage. Antrim’s joint captain Katie McAleese scored all of her side’s five first-half points with her opening score coming on nine minutes, her second was from play and the rest all converted frees.
Despite a stunning opening, the Down girls were kept scoreless for 25 minutes as they stuck eight frustrating first-half wides and allowed Antrim to creep back into the contest.
Played in Clones on Sunday (2 June) Orla Gribben got Down off the mark with a fine point in the first minute and 60 seconds later Sarah Louise Carr powered through to supply Mallon with the perfect pass and the ace marks-woman fired into the net. Sara Louise Carr then used their strength to hold off her marker and steer over a fine point as the Mourne women looked to assert their control, or so it seemed as Antrim had other ideas.
McAleese opened Antrim’s account with a fine free but at the other end Mallon hit Down’s first wide, from a tight-angled free. Antrim were creating chances but defender, Alannah Savage made a great block on Antrim’s Lucia McNaughton.
Down were making progress through the middle but Karen Mullen, Mallon and Sorcha McCartan all missed the target when they looked likely to score.
McAleese grabbed Antrim’s first score from play on 21 minutes, before the Mourne girls struck their fifth wide. Ballyholland’s Karen Tinnelly replaced the injured Savage and then a brace of converted frees within a minute from McAleece closed the gap some more.