There was mixed emotions for Eimear Smyth and her Fermanagh team-mates at the final whistle on Sunday.

On one hand, after taking a late lead in Croke Park they saw victory snatched from them as Antrim converted a free at the death to force a replay, but the contest could easily have got away from them in the first half as Antrim controlled things for long periods.

“I think we probably would have been a wee bit disappointed with the way we didn’t see the game out when we were a point up with two or three minutes to go but at the same time we were down to 14 and maybe could have got pipped at the end was the other way to look at it.

“At half time we definitely would have taken a draw so we are looking forward to two weeks time and hopefully righting the wrongs of Sunday,” said star forward Smyth.

Fermanagh played second fiddle to the Saffrons in the first half and would have been more than happy to have only been three points down at half time with Antrim guilty of some wayward shooting while at the other end Fermanagh were economical with their chances to stay in touch.

“We knew the firepower that Antrim have up front and they demonstrated that.

“They missed a few chances that they would maybe have backed themselves to score but we kept in touch which was the main thing.

“We didn’t let the game get away from us and Blaithin kept chipping away at the points so we always stayed in touch and we were happy enough going in a goal down at half time knowing that we hadn’t really performed in the first half whatsoever,” she explained.

Never gave up

It was an improved Fermanagh though who came out for the second half and even when things appeared to be going against them with Blaithin Bogue’s disallowed goal they continued to battle.

“That is the character within the group and we showed that on Sunday, we never gave up until the final whistle.

“We kept the head down and kept working hard and thankfully the momentum changed within the game and we were able to work ourselves back into it and produce some sort of performance in the second half.

“The management tweaked a few things at half time and we were far better in the second half,” said the Derrygonnelly Harps player.

That’s my job

It did though require a converted penalty from Smyth to bring the Erne outfit right back into contention, the full forward holding her nerve to fire past Antrim goalkeeper Anna McCann having missed one against the same opposition in the Ulster final.

“That’s what you practise for and that’s my job within the team, to take on those type of kicks and I love being in those pressure situations.

“There was a lot riding on the kick to try and get us back into the game so I was delighted to put it away because I had missed one in the Ulster final and I wanted to prove myself,” she added.

So, the sides will have to do it all again and Smyth believes that Fermanagh will be better for the experience with Sunday being the first All Ireland final for a lot of the squad.

“For the majority of the girls playing on Sunday it would have been their first taste of Croke Park and maybe that was factored into the first half performance with a little bit of nerves whereas you compare that to Antrim they were there last year and might not have been as nervous.

“It is all learning and we will learn a lot from it and that experience will stand to all the girls as we are all learning all the time and hopefully now we can build on it.”

And Smyth says that they will get back down to work and prepare for another crack at it when the sides meet again on Saturday week.

“They would have learnt a lot about us and we learnt a lot about them and the way they set up.

“I think it will be an interesting encounter again but we will get the heads down and work hard and hopefully we can come out the right side of the result this time around,” she said.