Fifty years ago this year Antrim hurlers made a major breakthrough for hurling in the county when they won the All Ireland Intermediate title, beating Warwickshire in the final at Croke Park. The plan was to honour that great team at the Saffron Business forum lunch at the Crown Plaza Hotel on May 28th and while the deadly Corona Virus makes that date unlikely now, they will be honoured at some time this year. Over the next few weeks I will be looking back at the games they played during that season, the 1969/70 league campaign and the 1970 Intermediate championship, thanks to the scrapbooks of team member Brendan McGarry. The Loughgiel man was a major force in that Antrim team, but he also preserved a great record of the team’s achievements that we will delve into.
It was clear from the start of that league campaign that Neill Patterson and his backroom team of Jim McClements, Len O’Connor, Frank Smyth and Fra McCann had a clear vision of what they wanted to do. The played their hurling in Division 2B of the league, a three team structure which saw each team play each other home and away and their rivalry with Ulster neighbours Down was intense. Right from the first game of the campaign, against Down in Casement Park the nucleus of the team was there and of the team that lined out that October day in 1969, thirteen of the team that won the Intermediate title almost a year later, started against their Ards rivals, and two others Aidan McCamphill and Willie Richmond came on as subs.
A few others played a part in that league campaign, which ended with a final win over Kildare in Croke Park in May 1970 and all the time the missing pieces of the jigsaw were being added. Men like Andy McCallin and Aidan Hamill, who had been two of the stars of Antrim’s All Ireland Under 21 winning football team in September ’69, were slotted in as the campaign progressed. Because the match reports only list the teams on the day, and the subs that were used, we don’t know for sure what the full panel was for each game but players like Joe McCallin of St John’s, Mickey McKearney of Sarsfields, Sparkie Clarke of Rossa, Alastair Rowan, Eneas Black and Charlie McDonnell of Glenariffe and Ray McIlroy of Mitchell’s who had been goalkeeper on the that Antrim U21 football team, were part of it.
This section covers the league campaign and gives a good insight into how the team took shape. The match reports are courtesy of the Irish News and Denis O’Hara is credited with a good few of them. Unfortunately photos from that time are scarce and we are indebted to Irish Photo Archives for many of the images. I would encourage anyone reading these reports to view the Irish Photo Archive site and buy the originals of some historic images.
1969/70 Division 2 B League campaign
Antrim’s league campaign got underway at Casement Park in the Autumn of 1969 with a 4-10 to 2-5 win over arch rivals Down in Casement Park. The men from the Ards had held the upper hand over their Ulster rivals in recent meetings and the win over their neighbours in that opening game was to give them a great lift. Writing in the Irish News Denis O’Hara’s opening paragraph read –
National Hurling League – Division 2
CAMPBELL SPARK REVIVAL TO GIVE GLENSMEN THE DOUBLE
Antrim 4-10 Down 2-5
RED-HAIRED BARNEY CAMPBELL from Loughgiel lifted a rather mediocre Antrim team to a mobile determined unit with a great goal in the 47th minute of this opening National Hurling League game at Casement Park yesterday. The goal gave Antrim their third, and final, lead over Down and the necessary injection to bring out some of the hurling seen not so long ago against Cork. In a matter of seconds Down’s chance of a unique win on Antrim soil was swiftly shattered when the home team pulled up their socks to tear holes in the Down defence. The added a further 2-5 between then and the end of the game, with just a solitary point from Charlie McMullan in reply.
The Campbell goal was engineered by burly Ballycastle forward Eddie Donnelly who withstood a few hefty tackles and still found time to palm the ball across the goal as he nosedived to the ground. Campbell was completely unmarked and picked his spot well, giving new visiting team ‘keeper Terry Bell no chance. From that moment onwards Down were out of the race and a transformed Antrim practically did as they pleased.
Antrim – Barney Campbell 2-0; Brendan McGarry 0-4; Seamus Richmond and Willie Richmond 1-0 each; Eddie Donnelly 0-3; Seanie Collins 0-2; Paddy McShane 0-1.
Down – Paud Braniff 2-0; Charley McMullan and Hugh Dorian 0-2 each; Sean McCallum 0-1.
Johnny Coyles, Chris Elliott, Kevin Donnelly, Eamon Hamill, Tony Connolly, Niall Wheeler, Sean Burns, Sean Collins, Mickey Kearns, Brendan McGarry, Eddie Donnelly, Seamus Richmond, Aneas Black, Paddy McShane, Barney Campbell.
SUBS – Aidan McCamphill for Kearns; Willie Richmond for Black
Referee – Joe Phelan (Tyrone)
The second game of the league saw them travel to Trim to take on Meath, then – just as now – tough opposition for any Antrim team. The Saffron’s record in the Royal county had not been good up to then, and when they went in at half time trailing by 3-2 to 0-5 the prospects did not look good. However thing were to change after the break and the introduction of Glenariffe’s Alastair Rowan was to bolster the midfield, and with he and Collins getting a grip in this sector, and Seanie Burns a tower of strength at centre back, things began to change.
Irish News report
ANTRIM HURLERS MASTER MEATH IN SECOND HALF
Meath v Antrim – National Hurling League Division 2b
Meath 4-3 Antrim 4-11
After a very poor first half in which Meath had the upper-hand Antrim turned in a very fine second half display to beat their hosts by eight points in their NHL Division 2 encounter in Trim. Antrim started well enough but they failed to take their chances and it was the eight minute before Paddy McShane opened their scoring with a point. This score appeared to awaken the Meath team who immediately hit back with a point from Matty Kerrigan and a fine goal from all-rounder Matty Mullan, better known for his performances with the Meath footballers. Play deteriorated after this with the Meath defence struggling to keep the Antrim forwards at bay. Young Andy McCallin converted two close-in frees and Paddy McShane added one from play to level the score, but slowly the Meath midfield gained control and with a plentiful supply of the ball T.J. Reilly twice found the Antrim net. A further Meath point from Vinny O’Shea was counteracted by one from the bustling Eddie Donnelly to leave Meath in the lead at half time by 3-2 to 0-5.
ROWAN INTRODUCED AT HALF TIME
At his stage of the game the Antrim selectors were a worried bunch of men. The wisdom however of having a manager capable of making the necessary switches then became apparent. Long-haired nineteen year old Alastair Rowan from Glenariffe was then put on at centre-field, freeing up team captain Sean Burns to take on the troublesome centre-half spot. Immediately after the restart Rowan and Collins assumed command at midfield, and with Burns behind them like a stone wall the Meath attack was starved and the Antrim forwards went to town.
Eddie Donnelly started the avalanche and barely had the play restarted when Andy McCallin cleverly flicked the ball to the Meath net. Jimmy Campbell then got in on the act with a point before McCallin against displayed his ability to snap up chances when he gae Meath goalkeeper John Keogh no chance from close range. Further points followed from McShane, Burns, Campbell and McGarry before Meath recorded their first score with a TJ Reilly point from a free. Straight from the puck-out the helmeted Seamus Richmond gave us a display of his fast swerving runs and found the Meath net twice in quick succession. As Antrim eased off near the end Matty Kerrigan scored a consolation goal for Meath.
Antrim were best served by veteran Johnny Coyles in goals, Kevin Donnelly, Niall Wheeler and Aidan McCamphill in defence, while Collins and Rowan (in the second half) showed what they are capable of when they have confidence in the defence behind them.
No teams or scorers listed.
The wheels came off the Antrim bandwagon when they travelled to Ballycran for the return fixture in the league in March 1970 on a day when the men from the Ards gained revenge for their earlier defeat in Casement Park, a result which put their league title hopes back on track.
National Hurling League – Division 2B
DOWN HURLERS KEEP THEIR LEAGUE HOPES ALIVE
Down 4-8 Antrim 2-6
Down hurlers kept the Division 2 hopes very much alive when they beat Antrim by eight points at Ballycran yesterday and so forced a play-off. The game lived up to expectation where the moderate attendance were treated to a fine display of hurling in ideal sunny conditions on a fine pitch. Down played with the advantage of a strong breeze in the first half and within a minute were a goal up when Kevin Donnelly had the misfortune to deflect a high dropping ball past Johnny Coyles in the Antrim goal. Aiden by this fine start Down attack, aided by a fine supply of ball by their centre-back Willie Coulter, made a constant onslaught on the Antrim goals, but full-back Donnelly, aided by his two wing backs Artie McGlone and Eamon Hamill, held out. Encouraged by this display the Antrim half backs came more into the game and at last sent their forwards on the attack from which Andy McCallin pointed. Down soon swept to the other end and with the Antrim defenders tackling like tigers it was no surprise to see Down awarded a free, which Hugo O’Prey pointed.
Play then swayed from end to end with both teams trying unsuccessfully to gain overall control. Eddie Donnelly pointed twice for Antrim but these were counteracted by similar scores from Eugene Faloona and big Hugo O’Prey to leave Down ahead by only two points at half time on the score of 1-3 to 0-4. At this stage one felt that Antrim must be home and dry, considering that their defence appeared to have the measure of the Down attack, and even more important, the Saffrons now had the strong breeze to come in the second half. It was therefore no surprise that Antrim started the second half full of confidence, but they soon came back down to earth when Hugo O’Prey stretched Down’s lead with a point. Antrim captain Sean Burns soon realised that Down were not going to give up without a fight and with pinpoint accuracy he dropped a long free inot the Down goalmouth. Backs and forwards all swung on it but the all missed, and the ball crossed the line to level the scores.
Antrim were now set to run riot but some prudent switches by the Down mentors saw Brian Gilmore come on for Sean Hollywood and Gerry Lennon replace Eugene Faloona, switches which gave them a new lease of life. Paud Braniff sprung to life at midfield and the overall plan of giving Hugo O’Prey – surely he is the Sean O’Neill of Down hurling – a good supply of ball was restored. This paid hansome dividends when he first sent over a free and soon after flicked the ball to the Saffron’s net with Johnny Coyles drawn out of position.
Down sensed that they now had every chance and for a while Antrim attacked in vain. Paud Braniff dropped back to help his new half-back Paddy Byers, called from the bench when Willie Coulter twisted his ankle. This momentary weakness in the Down defence allowed Eddie Donnelly to reduce the arrears with a point, and later level the scores with a great goal from a 21 yard free.
Once more Antrim thought they were on their way to victory but once Down came back. Hugh Dorian ran all the way from his full-back spot to have a go at a 21 yard free which went to high, but nevertheless over the bar. Then it was that man O’Prey again bursting through to put his team two ahead with seven minutes to go. Antrim began to weaken but team captain Burns steadied them and his long clearances saw his forwards attack again. ‘Sparkie Clarke’, on for the young Alastair Rowan, showed his more experienced team mates how they should have been taking their chances when he pointed from far out. Shortly after this Eddie Donnelly decided to go for a goal from a 21 yard free when a point might have been more useful. In the event he slipped taking the free and his weak shot was easily saved. Down immediately attacked from the clearance and O’Prey was waiting to whip the ball to the Antrim net at the other end and virtually finish the match, but to be sure Hugh Gilmore netted another for Down to leave them worthy winners, but perhaps by a flattering margin.
Down can attribute their success to their never say die attitude and their all-out attack up the middle. Goalie Bell did all that was ask of him and corner back Charlie Coulter gave himself a nice wedding present by restricting quick-silver corner forward Andy McCallin to just two points. Other Down men to shine were full-back Dorrian, half back Crawford, midfielders Paddy and Paud Braniff, and man of the match Hugo O’Prey.
Antrim’s best were goalkeeper Johnny Coyles, who cannot be blamed for any of the four Down goals. Sean Collins did well at midfield while up front only Eddie Donnelly and Andy McCallin were up to their usual standard.
Down scorers – H O’Prey 2-6; B Gimore 1-0, K Donnelly (own goal), E Faloona and H Dorian 0-1 each.
Antrim scorers – E Donnelly 1-3; S Burns 1-0; A McCallin 0-2; S Clarke 0-1.
DOWN – T Bell, C Coulter, H Dorrian, C Duff, J Hughes, W Coulter, B Crawford Paddy Braniff, Paud Braniff, C McMullan, B Faloona, E Faloona, M Coleman, H O’Prey, S Hollywood.
Subs – P Byers for H Coulter; G Lennon for E Faloona; B Gilmore for S Hollyood.
ANTRIM – J Coyles, A McGlone, K Donnelly, E Hamill, N Wheeler S Burns, J McCallin, S Collins, A Rowan, B McGarry, E Donnelly, S Richmond, B Campbell, W Richmond, A McCallin.
Subs – S Clarke for Rowan.
Down’s win in Ballycran meant that the two sides were now locked on the same number of points, both having accounted for Meath in their reverse fixtures. The Athletic Grounds in Armagh was the venue chosen for the play-off game to see who would face Kildare in the final in Croke Park.
Irish News Report. April 1970
National Hurling League Division 2B Play-off
ANTRIM HURLERS DEFEAT DOWN TO REACH DECIDER
Antrim 6-11 Down 5-5
Antrim progressed to the final of the Division 2 National Hurling League when they outplayed Down at the Athletic Grounds Armagh yesterday. Nevertheless the handful of spectators present at this neutral venue witnessed an entertaining display of first time hurling and in the end no one could dispute Antrim’s all-round superiority
The game opened quietly enough with both teams trying hard to master the wet blustery conditions. Antrim were the first to settle and after about five minutes of unproductive play Brendan McGarry opened their scoring with a point. Young Andy McCallin then gave the first hint of the marksmanship he was to produce throughout the game when he pointed a free from an acute angle out on the right wing. Both these scores indicated that the Saffron forwards were going to be in much better form than in the recent clash between these two sides at Ballycran. It was therefore no surprise when ‘Sparkie’ Clarke increased their lead with a fine goal when he coolly swung first time on an accurate lob across the goalmouth from Aidan Hamill.
Antrim were now five points up and playing with supreme confidence. Down however were in no mood to let them build up a big lead and midfielder Paud Braniff began to inspire his forwards with fine solo runs and accurate passes and for fully ten minutes he blotted Antrim captain Sean Burns out of the game. With this control at midfield the Down forwards received a useful supply of the ball and eventually Charlie McMullan opened their account with a pointed free. Then Paud Braniff himself caught the whole Antrim defence by surprise when he ‘had a go’ from a 35 yard free and planted the ball in the Antrim net.
Down were very much now back in the game and within minutes they were in the lead through points from Gerard Lennon and Paud Braniff. At this stage the Antrim mentors switched their midfielders and Sean Collins was given the task of curbing the penetrating runs of Paud Braniff and while he never completely succeeded he nevertheless forced Braniff to part with the ball earlier and less accurately. The Antrim half back line of Wheeler, Eddie Donnelly and Aidan McCamphill were as a result now able to affect long clearances and from one of these the ball dropped into the Down goalmouth where Willie Richmond was waiting to pull overhead and send the ball past the helpless Terry Bell. A minute later Andy McCallin pointed another free and his side once again looked to be heading to a half-time lead. Then in the closing minutes of the first half there was a spate of scoring. First Johnny Coyles in the Antrim goal tried to save a point and only succeeded in pulling the ball down into his own net. Paud Braniff edged Down ahead with a point from a free but Andy McCallin responded with one to leave the sides level again. Quick as a flash Brian Gilmore restored the Down lead with a snap shot goal from a melee but the final score, a point direct from a sideline puck to leave Down leading by 3-4 to 2-5 and looking as they might be able to hold on to their advantage in the second-half.
The resumption was awaited with some anxiety but both sets of mentors who envisaged a very tight second half and a close finish. However they reckoned without the determination of Seamus Richmond who had been relegated to the reserves in the original selection, but played because of the non-appearance of Alastair Rowan. Richmond was out to prove the selectors wrong and though he had failed to get his name on the scoresheet in the opening half he quickly rectified that position when he side-stepped Willie Coulter and lashed the ball to the Down net from fully forty yards. This gave Antrim the lead and from then on they never really looked like being caught.
Sharpshooter McCallin pointed a free and the Down defence was at sixes and sevens. So disjointed in fact that he was able to team up with his footballing ‘twin’ Aidan Hamill and between them they revealed glaring weaknesses in the Ardsmen’s defence. This led to the removal of centre-half Willie Coulter and for a spell Down came back into the game. But only long enough for Charlie Coulter to point a free before Antrim regained overall control and from then on the scores came at regular intervals. Captain Sean Burns pointed a long range free and then Andy McCallin hit a 21 yard free which floated into the Down net untouched. This same player, having a field day, added a further 1-1 as the Antrim sextet began to toy with their opponents.
But Down seldom throw in the towel completely and in the final ten minutes they had opportunist goals from Martin Coleman and Sean Hollywood who blocked in a clearance by Johnny Coyles. In reply Seamus Richmond hit 1-1 and Sparkie Clarke added a point to leave Antrim easy and worthy winners.
Antrim must attribute this comfortable victory to their forwards who played as a unit and made the most of the space afforded them. Andy McCallin will remember this game but Aidan Hamill, who did not actually score, did his share and contributed to the fluency up front. As already mentioned Seamus Richmond answered his recent critics and his clubmate Brendan McGarry, fearing a similar fate, can hold his head high after this display. In defence Antrim conceded 5-5 against a team who were only a shadow of their former self, and this heavy tally must give reason for concern. Only Eamon Hamill, Eddie Donnelly and Aidan McCamphill played up their usual standard. The remainder will have to improve if Antrim are to win the Division 2 title.
Even captain Sean Burns fell below his best at midfield but his partner Sean Collins made the best of a difficult task against Down star Paul Braniff.
Down will want to forget this performance. Only three men played anywhere near their normal form, full back Hugh Dorian, quick-tackling left-half Jimmy Hughes and midfielder Paud Braniff. In attack Down sadly missed by Hugo O’Prey and the scores they did achieve could all be put down to the slackness of the winners defence. The absence of O’Prey will no doubt prove a thorn in the side of the Down selectors for many a day to come. In addition the fitness of this Down squad looked suspect, especially in the second half when Antrim ran them off their feet.
Scorers for Antrim – Andy McCallin 2-6 – 1-6 from frees; Seamus Richmond 2-1; Sparkie Clarke 1-1; Willie Richmond 1-0; Sean Burns 0-2; Brendan McGarry 0-1.
Down scorers – Paud Braniff 1-2, Martin Coleman, Brian Gilmore and Sean Hollywood 1-0 each; Charlie McMullan 0-2.
ANTRIM – J Coyles, A Connolly, K Donnelly, E Hamill, N Wheeler E Donnelly, A McCamphill, S Burns, S Collins, S Clarke, S Richmond, B McGarry, A Hamill, W Richmond, A McCallin.
DOWN – T Bell, Charlie Coulter, H Dorian, C Duff, J Hughes Willie Coulter, B Crawford, Paddy Braniff, Paud Braniff, C McMullan, G Lennon, F Faloona, M Coleman, B Faloona, B Gilmore.
The win over Down in the play-off saw the Saffrons earn a final place against Kildare, who had topped the division 2 C table which comprised of four team, Kildare, Kerry, Wicklow and Carlow. The game was set for Croke Park, Antrim’s first appearance there in a final since losing to Kerry in the 67/68 decider.
National Hurling League Division 2B final
Croke Park Dublin May 10th 1970
ANTRIM HURLERS DO IT AT LAST
Irish News Report by Denis O’Hara
Antrim 2-13 Kildare 3-8
Opportune scores early in the first half, and during the same stage of the second, by architect’s assistant Andy McCallin, allied to a resolute defence, gave Antrim hurlers a well-deserved breakthrough to win Division 2 of the National Hurling League final at Croke Park, writes Denis O’Hara.
And while Antrim would be foolish to enter the realms of senior league, an area where they enjoyed some measure of success in the early fifties, their performance against Kildare yesterday ranks among their best for many a long day. Sheer determination and a long awaited will to win at all costs, bridged a 12 year gap since the county gained such and honour. Had they been able to sustain their first half dominance the issue would have been relatively clear cut. One man almost stood in the way of Antrim’s progression, he was Kildare centre half Pat Dunny who performed a one man war against the Saffrons. After moving to the 40 yard mark midway through the first half Dunny operated with high skill and precision during the second period, but despite his heroic efforts Antrim went on to a justified victory.
Antrim had a dream start through a McCallin goal inside the first thirty seconds and then raced on to a ten point lead after fifteen minutes. But the full-blooded hurling from Dunny reduced the lead to five points (2-7 to 2-2) and I wondered if this was going to be yet another repeat of Antrim’s failures in the run-in. In the past they have tried to overcome final obstacles and usually threw in the sponge. This time they clung desperately to their lead, and even without midfield supremacy, through a strangely subdued Sean Burns and an unfit Sean Collins, the fought tooth and nail to stay in front. There was a close similarity between this decider and the opening Vocational Schools game. Antrim were somehow ridiculously far superior than last year’s Intermediate champions. It was unbelievable to see just how superior Antrim were in every department. They were faster to the ball and their positive striking left the fumbling Kildare men in a daze. But the Leinster team somehow called on all their reserves, and a spectacular goal in the 42nd minute by ace marksman Mark Dwane temporarily shattered Antrim’s hopes.
With eighteen minute remaining there seemed little hope of Antrim holding onto the lead. But this they did, and with their backs to the wall when former middleweight champion Jack O’Connell narrowed the gap to a point, Antrim produced a spirit that augers well for the future of the game in the county. A point from a free and a superb score from 55 yards out by tricky winger Andy McCallin gave Antrim much needed breathing space with seven minutes to go. Kildare’s challenge was petering out but determined Dunny kept his team in the hunt with a point from a free in the 57th minute. Only a miracle could save the southern side when McCallin picked up a pass from Willie Richmond to slam over that relieving final point which kept Antrim ahead by three very valuable points.
Antrim can thank young McCallin for his timely burst of deadly accuracy for this win, but at the same time the overall workrate from all the player is something that has been sadly missing on Antrim teams for quite a number of years. As well as gaining the trophy Antrim must have learned that an all our effort for determination for the full hour is hard to beat. Before the dust settles it is only fair to congratulate team manager Neill Patterson who must have injected the long awaited return of Antrim pride. Every player responded to their urgings on the line and when the chips were down players such as Seamus Richmond, Brendan McGarry and Eddie Donnelly moved back to help out their overworked defence.
Here half-back Nial Wheeler reached a new peak, especially when the pressure was really hot. Antrim were unusually consistent in their play and they employed crisp striking throughout. They covered smartly in defence and corner backs Chris Elliott and Eamon Hamill were superb. Hamill came in as a late replacement and operated admirably in this morale boosting win.
Minus Alastair Rowan in the half-forward line the selectors wisely moved Eddie Donnelly to the attack. Corner back Tony Connolly, remarkably cool for such an inexperienced player, sufficiently filled the centre back role. But the big men during the all-out Kildare attacks were half backs Nial Wheeler (his best game in an Antrim jersey) and Aidan McCamphill who cut off many Kildare attacking movements with almost suicidal bravery. These two probably did more to keep Antrim in front when it counted than any others on the side, though it may seem a little unfair to single out any individual stars. Slightly impoverished at centre field where injury hit Sean Collins struggled bravely to aid the ice-cool Sean Burns.
TREAT TO WATCH
Antrim’s scoring success was laid by Eddie Donnelly and to a lesser extent by Seamus Richmond and Brenan McGarry. Donnelly’s scoring feats, mainly from his knees were a treat to watch. I believe his gritty display had the right effect on the rest of the forwards. Willie Richmond was recalled to fill the gap left by the unavailable Aidan Hamill and the rugged Dunloy man worked with unceasing determination, while quick moving Paddy McShane impressed early in the game.
The accuracy of fair haired McCallin was the kernel of Antrim’s triumph. The side-stepping St John’s player, a player of equal ability on the football field, gave the Kildare constant headaches when he gained possession. From the throw-in he joined in the frolics by snapping up a McShane rebound to plant Antrim in a goal lead inside thirty second. This is what Antrim needed to offset years of frustration. Kildare, dramatically subdued by the sheer landslide enthusiasm of their opponents, had little answer to the eager Ulster side.
McCALLIN STRUCK AGAIN
Seconds later Mccallin was on the mark again, this time from a free and in the 5th minute Willie Richmond picked up a pass from his namesake Seamus to place Antrim in and unbelievable five point lead without reply from the Leinster team. Johnny Coyles saved from Jack O’Connell before Antrim went further ahead in the tenth minute through Eddie Donnelly. Shortly afterwards Paddy McShane, the daddy of the team, blocked down a Seamus Richmond lob for Antrim’s second goal. In the 15th minute Richmond put Antrim into a ten point lead. The one-sided path was almost certain to stop and the man who did it was Dunny who moved up the field. After a brilliant solo run he slammed the ball to the back of the net in the 16th minute. Five minutes later Mick Dwane narrowed the gap to six points and then Eddie Donnelly decided to end the temporary rut in the Antrim team.
McCallin had a hand in both scores as Donnelly drove over two terrific long range points, but six minutes from the interval that man Dunny stormed through again with a goal from a 21 yard free, and Dwane followed with a point. Just on half time Donnelly picked up a pass from Richmond and pointed to give Antrim a 2-7 to 2-2 half time lead.
After a session of supremacy, which included seven wides, Antrim had to call on all their reserves of strength. McCallin showed the way to victory with a shot-in-the-arm point inside 15 seconds. Dwane replied for Kildare before Sean Burns, showing his old class smacked over a free from sixty yards.
COYLES TO THE RESCUE
Veteran keeper Coyles came to the rescue before Dunne pointed a seventy yard free in the 35th minute. Seconds later a half volley by Burns gave the Saffrons another valuable point before Kildare reserve Jimmy Murphy replied at the other end. A flamboyant piece of running by Dwane ended with a brilliant goal in the 42nd minute and it now appeared that Antrim’s heroic effort might melt away in what was now a white hot arena.
Coyles expertly saved from O’Connell before the same player pointed in the 45th minute to leave just a point between the sides. It seemed a repetition of Antrim hurling in the making for Antrim but that long absent determination pulled them away from the abyss of defeat. Kildare goalie Peter Connolly saved gallantly from McCallin and McShane before Antrim gained just reward, as Eddie Donnelly was fouled and McCallin pointed the resultant free.
Seven minutes from the end great work from Seamus Richmond earned a free for Antrim some 50 yards from the Kildare goal and McCallin rose to the challenge by placing his team in a three point lead. When dynamic Dunny narrowed the gap yet again with a point from a free in the 57th minute McCallin’s brilliant liking up with Willie Richmond, following a full blooded McCamphill clearance, edged Antrim into the necessary lead again. In injury time Dunny did manage a late consolation point from a 70 yard free but it was to be the last action of the game and referee Clem Foley blew the final whistle.
Antrim scorers – Andy McCallin 1-5; Eddie Donnelly 0-4; Paddy McShane 1-0; Sean Burns 0-2; Willie Richmond 0-1; Seamus Richmond 0-1.
Kildare scorers – P Dunny 2-3; M Dwane 1-3; J O’Connell 0-1; J Murphy 0-1
Johnny Coyles, Eamon Hamill, Kevin Donnelly, Chris Elliott, Nial Wheeler, Tony Connolly, Aidan McCamphill, Sean Collins Sean Burns, Brendan McGarry, Eddie Donnelly, Seamus Richmond, Paddy McShane, Willie Richmond, Andy McCallin.
Subs Mickey McKearney for Collins.
Peter Connolly, Seamus Malone, Colm O’Malley, Noel Burke, John O’Brien, Pat Dunny, Mick O’Brien, Bobby Burke, Tom Christian, Jack O’Connell, Tommy Carew, Mick Dwane, Mick Behan, Jack Wall, Ned Walsh.
Subs – J Murphy for Christian; Kevin O’Brien for Behan; Mich Mullins for Wall.
Referee – Clem Foley (Dublin)