Saffrons defeated but positives on show

Walsh Cup – Leinster Senior Hurling

Group A Round 1

Antrim 1-21 Dublin 2-27

Sunday 9 January

Brendan McTaggart reports from Parnell Park, Dublin 

An experimental Antrim side put in a solid performance on Sunday afternoon as they began their 2022 Walsh Cup campaign against Dublin.

Nine points separated the sides at the end of 70 minutes at Parnell Park in a performance that saw the Saffrons blow off the cobwebs and have plenty of positive signs for the season ahead.  Players returning, debutants, players hitting the ground running and grounds for early optimism.

1-14 from play and nine different scorers with an opening quarter that saw them run into an eight point lead by the 15th minute with a spell of 1-7 without reply.  Deaglan Murphy’s well taken 13th minute major punctuating an excellent spell for Darren Gleeson’s men.

Colin Currie who scored 1-14 for Dublin in their win over Antrim at Parnell Park

The home side grew into the game and showed much the same athleticism, intensity and skills they showcased in 2021.  Chris Crummey and Rian McBride catching the eye while inside forward Colin Currie was man of the match with 1-5 of his 1-14 coming from play in a superb performance.

In a game where Antrim made eight substitutions from half time, they started superbly and all those introduced had an impact.  Conal Bohill, Deaglan Murphy and Niall McKenna showing little or no rust coming into the new season while Eoghan Campbell was my choice for the best player in an Antrim shirt.  Two points and in the thick of everything Antrim tried to do throughout the 70 minutes.

Once the Dubs clicked into gear, they were simply too hot to handle for Antrim.  Their supporting runs and sharp, incisive passing created space time and again.  The home side’s first goal came in the last minute of the first half to give them a half time lead having reeled the Saffrons lead in from their blistering opening quarter.  Cian O’Sullivan reading the breaking ball, gathering the sliotar and hammering beyond Paul McMullan in the Antrim goals.

Their second goal came soon after the restart.  Antrim had begun the second half strongly, showing plenty of intensity and controlled aggression.  A Ciaran Clarke free was all they could show for their efforts in that opening five minutes with a couple of costly misses preceding Colin Currie’s goal.  McBride intercepting a short poc-out and as the Dubs sniffed a chance of goal, they worked the sliotar to Currie and he made no mistake.

Despite having conceded two goals, McMullan’s performance between the sticks was another positive.  He made three outstanding saves showing incredible bravery on each occasion.

Deaglan Murphy celebrates after scoring Antrim’s goal during the first half.

All six of Antrim’s starting forwards got their names on the list of scorers with McKenna and Conor Johnston sharing eight points equally while Seaan Elliott also looked lively in a 20 minute cameo.  The Dunloy man raising a white flag but heavily involved in link play as Antrim tried to unlock a well drilled Dublin defence.

The 2022 season is underway and despite defeat, Antrim can take plenty from this performance.  They travel to Tullamore next Sunday and a meeting with Offaly in round 2.

TEAMS

Antrim: Paul McMullan; Aaron Crawford, Matthew Donnelly, Gerard Walsh; Scott Walsh, Eoghan Campbell, Joe Maskey; Shea Shannon, Michael Bradley; Niall McKenna, Conor Johnston, Conal Bohill; Deaglan Murphy, Neil McManus, Ciaran Clarke

Subs: Daniel McKernan for S Shannon (ht); Ryan McCambridge for J Maskey (48); Ryan McGarry for S Walsh (48); Paddy Burke for M Bradley (49); Seaan Elliott for C Clarke (52); Arron Bradley for C Bohill (52); Keelan Molloy for N McManus (60); Stephen Rooney for G Walsh (68)

Scorers: Ciaran Clarke 0-6 (4f’s 1’65); Niall McKenna 0-4; Conor Johnston 0-4; Deaglan Murphy 1-1 (1f); Eoghan Campbell 0-2 (1f); Conal Bohill 0-1; Seaan Elliott 0-1; Michael Bradley 0-1; Neil McManus 0-1

Dublin: Sean Brennan; Ronan Smith, Paddy Smyth, Luke Walsh; John Bellew, Daire Gray, James Madden; Conor Burke, Rian McBride; Cian O’Sullivan, Sean Curran, John Hetherton; Colin Currie, Chris Crummey, Aiden Mellet

Subs: Ronan Hayes for C O’Sullivan (ht); Tom Connolly for R Smith (52); Eamonn Dillon for D Gray (58); Davy Keogh for A Mellott (58); Darragh Power for C Burke (60)

Scorers: Colin Currie 1-14 (9 f’s); Rian McBride 0-4; Cian O’Sullivan 1-1; Chris Crummey 0-3; John Hetherton 0-2; Aiden Mellet 0-1; Eamonn Dillon 0-1; Ronan Smith 0-1; 

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