E.T. fires home to snatch late win for Antrim U20

Abbotstown GAA National Games Development Centre

Antrim 3-15 4-10 Westmeath

By Liam McLean

Antrim U20 Hurlers continued their preparation for the upcoming Leinster Hurling Championship in tough conditions vs. Westmeath at the GAA National Games Development Centre, Abbotstown on Sunday.

The Antrim squad were hit by a number of injuries in recent days and also travelled to the game minus their Ryan Cup contingent with Queens & UUJ both in action this weekend at Carlow IT.

Seamus McAuley who scored 0-7 in Antrim U20s win over Westmeath

Antrim started brightly and playing with a strong ‘Storm Franklin’ assisted breeze, Seamus McAuley opened the scoring after 90 seconds from a placed ball. The sides exchanged scores during the opening 10 minutes, although conditions were having a major impact on the game with Westmeath struggling to get a foothold in proceedings.

Antrim then looked to push on using their wind advantage and when Rian McMullan buried a rasping goal to the bottom corner it looked likely that Antrim were going to use conditions to their full advantage.

However, when a high, hopeful clearance somehow found its way into the Antrim net this gave Westmeath the impetus they needed to force their way back into the game and on 20 minutes another high ball in from the Westmeath defence was flicked to the net to leave the Midlands men 5 points in front.

Antrim battled back gamely through well taken points from Aidan Scullion and Seanie McIntosh. As the half drew to a close, Tiernan Smyth levelled matters by capitalising on an error in the Westmeath defence to snap the ball to the net. Over the remaining 5 minutes of the half, Aidan Scullion, Seamus McAuley and Rian McMullan combined to send the young Saffrons into the break up by 2-08 to 2-06.

Dubaltach Wilson was part of a strong Antrim half-back line

Facing into a huge wind in the second half, Antrim started strongly and opened their second half account through another Seamus McAuley free who was deadly accurate throughout the entire game.

Westmeath then took over, scoring 1-04 without reply and with elements in their favour it looked like they would take a lot of stopping. Antrim stood strong however with the half back line of Dubhaltach Wilson, Oggy McGarry and Ronan Laverty beginning to dominate the skies and two well taken scores from Seamus McAuley halfway through the second half saw the gap reduced to 2 points.

The introduction of Niall McGarel gave Antrim renewed zip in their inside line and the young Glenarm man won some crucial frees which Seamus McAuley (2) converted and when Rian McMullan and McKinley again put Antrim ahead by 2 points with 5 minutes remaining it looked like the Saffrons would hang on for victory.

Westmeath had other ideas however and direct from the resulting restart they worked a fantastic move from full back to full forward and smashed the ball to the Antrim net to go 1 point ahead. With 90 seconds remaining on the clock, Antrim would have one last chance to salvage the game and salvage they did.

Enda Og McGarry pivoted the Antrim defence

Antrim Netminder Criostaí McAuley orchestrated a well-worked póc-out of his own and when the ball found its way to Conlith McKinley bearing down on goal, he was hauled to the ground.

This gave Antrim talisman Seamus McAuley a chance to level matters from the resulting free but the Ballycastle man was in no mood to share the spoils and went for the jugular.

Although his initial effort was stopped on the line, midfield Maestro Eoin Trainor who was phenomenal throughout, bulldozed his way through to finish the ball to the net and give Antrim yet another hard fought win on the road.

Antrim Scorers:

Seamus McAuley 0-07 (0-05 frees)

Rian McMullan 1-03

Tiernan Smyth 1-00

Eoin Trainor 1-00

Aidan Scullion 0-02

Conlith McKinley 0-02

Seanie McIntosh 0-01

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