Bord na Móna Walsh Cup @ Parnell Park, DublinAntrim captain Conor McKinley in action against Dublin in Sunday’s Walsh Cup game at Parnell Park. Pic by John McIlwaine
Antrim 0-17 Dublin 4-16
By Brendan McTaggart
Antrim suffered an 11 point defeat to Dublin in their last match of the 2018 Walsh Cup on Sunday afternoon. Despite a good performance, Dublin’s ability to carve open goal chances while showing greater composure under pressure proved to be the difference between the sides. The Saffrons hit 16 wides over the 70 minutes while the home side were much more economical with just six. Antrim were reliant on the free taking ability of Neil McManus throughout the contest, especially in the first half. The Cushendall man finished the match with 0-11 to his name but ultimately the Dubs were a step too far for the Saffrons.
Antrim got off to a superb start at a sun kissed Parnell Park and opened the scoring thanks to a McManus free in the first minute. Two further Saffron wides followed but with the midfield duo of McManus and Gerard Walsh along with the Antrim half back line firing well in the early stages, Antrim were able to keep pressure on the Dublin defence.
By the seventh minute, Antrim had a five point lead with frees from McManus (three) and Clarke but they were dealt an early hammer blow when the home side scored the first goal of the match with their first meaningful attack. Killian Costello with the assist and Paul Crummey applying the smart finish despite the best efforts of Chrissy O’Connell in the Antrim goals.
The goal was the opening the Saffrons Division 1b rivals required. Dublin followed the major by rattling off five unanswered points in the space of eight minutes, Paul Winters (two frees), Paul Crummey and Darragh Gray raising the white flags.
Antrim were still battling well all over the pitch and were unlucky not to have a goal of their own in the opening quarter. McManus brought the best out of Gary Maguire in the Dublin goals with his riffled 21 yard free and the Antrim forward scored his fifth point of the match soon after to reduce the Dublin lead to two point, stopping the rot for the Saffrons and scoring their first point for 12 minutes.
Crummey’s goal separated the sides when the Dubs scored their second major after 26 minutes, Paul Winters with the rebound after Alan Moore’s effort cannoned off the crossbar. The goals were harsh on the Saffron defence who had by enlarge dealt well with the lively Dublin attack in the first half. The Saffrons were battling well all over the field but the home side gained confidence with each goal and held a six point lead at the interval.
Antrim played with whatever wind advantage was available in the second half and like the first half, began well. McManus with the first score after the restart with a free but two wides in as many minutes hurt their chances of eating into the Dublin lead. The home side took full advantage of the Saffrons lack of accuracy when like the first half, they scored a goal with their first attack of the half. Alan Moore with the finish after judging the flight of the sliotar perfectly and leaving his marker for dead.
Moore doubled his goals tally just five minutes later, pouncing on a lose sliotar 21 yards out before firing to the bottom corner of Chrissy O’Connell’s net to all but end any hopes Antrim had causing an upset. They did continue to battle hard however, McManus continuing to be accurate from frees with Nigel Elliott and Gerard Walsh also chipping in with some beautiful scores but they needed goals to get back into the contest and the Dublin defence were in no mood to let their lead go.
Conor Johnston scored back to back points for the Saffrons in the 54th and 55th minute, the first time Antrim scored unanswered points in the contest since their opening flurry but Dublin ended the match on top scoring four further points in the time that remained to advance to a home semi-final with Wexford in seven days time.
Antrim now turn their attentions to their National League campaign and the small matter of an away journey to All-Ireland champions Galway in four weeks time.
Dublin: Gary Maguire; Paddy Smyth; Bill O’Carroll; Cian Hendricken; Shane Barrett; Darren Kelly; Chris Crummey; John McCaffrey; Tomás Connolly; Killian Costello; Darragh Gray; Paul Crummey; Alan Moore; Paul Winters; Robert Mahon
Scores: Alan Moore 2-1; Paul Winters 1-4 (3 f’s); Robert Mahon 0-6 (2 f’s, 1 ’65); Paul Crummey 1-1; Darragh Gray 0-3; John McCaffrey 0-1
Subs: Ronan Smith for Tomás Connolly (26 mins); Cian McBride for Paul Winters (44 mins); Seán Ó’Riain (49 mins); Conor Ryan for Killian Costello (51 mins)
Yellow Cards: Shane Barrett (31 mins); Paul Crummey (37 mins); Chris Crummey (58 mins)
Antrim: Chris O’Connell; David Kearney; Arron Graffin; Stephen Rooney; Joe Maskey; John Dillon; Conor McKinley; Neil McManus, Gerard Walsh; Conor McCann; Conor Johnston; Nigel Elliott; James McNaughton; Conor Carson; Ciaran Clarke
Scores: Neil McManus 0-11 (10 frees); Conor Johnston 0-2; Conor McCann 0-1; Nigel Elliott 0-1; Gerard Walsh 0-1, Ciaran Clark 0-1 (1 free)
Subs: Eoin O’Neill for Conor Carson (48 mins); James Connolly for Ciaran Clarke (48 mins); Maol Connolly for Conor McCann (57 mins); Conor Boyd for John Dillon (65 mins); Daniel McCloskey for Nigel Elliott (70 mins)
Yellow Cards: Joe Maskey (21 mins), Stephen Rooney (53 mins), Conor McCann (55 mins)
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)