AT half-time in Saturday's LGFA All-Ireland Junior replay in Armagh, Antrim manager Emma Kelly was actually considering withdrawing Grainne McLaughlin.

The Glenavy attacker may have already landed two points, but the Antrim boss felt there was more in her and having picked up a few ticks for fouls, she was also on the the brink of the sin-bin.

Kelly said after the game McLaughlin was being given a few minutes to show something and she rose to the challenge superbly, delivering a performance for the ages to finish with eight points, five from play.

The quality of some of those scores really stood out as she made it look so easy at times and while it is all about the team, she was nonetheless happy with her day at the Athletic Grounds.

“Yeah, it was mentioned that I was on a few ticks," she admitted.

"I said, ‘I’ll promise to keep my hands up and not get involved in anything’ and I didn’t get anymore ticks and managed to stay on the field.

“I was happy about that and I was able to get a few more scores and help the team over the line.

“Personal performances are good, but obviously it is all about the team. There were probably a few shots I shouldn’t have taken and given off. At the end of the day, we still got over the line and won by a good bit so I’ll not worry too much about that.”

Antrim just seemed to have a much greater balance on Saturday with attacking threats across the board giving Fermanagh too many problems to solve at once.

That was perhaps a result of this Antrim team being a little further down the road and having banked the experience of past disappointments that meant they were in no mood to be denied again.

“I think last year we didn’t really show up in the final," McLaughlin opined.

"A fortnight ago, maybe we didn’t perform at our best.  This week it was just totally different. Everything just clicked for us, there was more hunger there and I think we had a point to prove.

“I think the spread of scorers was immense from us. We can rely on every single of one those forwards, both midfielders and our half backs, if they are up that far. 

"It is great to have that and how many scores you can get – it really propels you on and you’re not relying on a couple of players. If someone was having an off day, it wouldn’t matter as much because there are other options there.”

Antrim will now test themselves in the Intermediate grade next year, while promotion from Division Four is high on the agenda as this group attempts to raise the bar and pave the way for the younger generation.

The backing this group received on Saturday, in Croke Park a fortnight ago and throughout the campaign highlights the growth of the game in Antrim, so this is just the beginning and not the end of the journey.

“I think it just really propels us on," McLaughlin said of the sea of saffron at the weekend.

"Getting the support, they are like a 16th player for us. They are so loud and they came out in their droves. All my friends and family were there and it is just great to see. 

“I was up taking a wee session in Glenavy and, you don’t really think about this, but the girls do look up to you. You just hope to pave the way for them and, hopefully, in 10 or 15 years time we’ll be up at senior or intermediate level competing well. That’s the plan.”