Late Deise surge closed the door on Saffrons

Allianz Hurling League, Division One Group B

Waterford 1-22 Antrim 0-17

Sunday 26 February

Brendan McTaggart reports from Fraher Field, Dungarvan.

Antrim put in a much improved performance on Sunday on the south east coast against Waterford but the home side finished strong to see off Darren Gleeson’s men.  It took the introduction of Deise star Austin Gleeson to ignite Davy Fitgerald’s men with the Mount Sion man landing five points in a 25 minute cameo where he showed his class.

Antrim’s challenge took a massive dent when captain Eoghan Campbell saw red in the 23rd minute for an off the ball incident with Reuben Halloran.  The Saffrons were ahead by three at the time and posing plenty of questions of the Waterford defence but the numerical advantage and playing into the wind in the second half took its toll in the end.

Two ahead at half time, Antrim played with more precision and poise in the second half that may have been lacking in previous matches.  They managed to stay ahead of the home side for long periods of the second half with Conal Cunning’s frees prevalent but with 10 minutes of the 70 remaining, the home side and Aussie Gleeson found another gear.

The Waterford goal came from the penalty spot early in the second period ‘keeper Tiernan Smyth going close to Patrick Curran’s drive while Antrim didnt have the same luck from their penalty awarded late in the game.  Gerard Walsh’s effort spectacularly saved by Shaun O’Brien with the sliotar destined for the top corner.

It felt like a turning point at the time.  A major then and Antrim could have kicked on, as it was the home side saw off the Antrim challenge.


With the wind at their backs, Antrim opened quite brightly with Keelan Molloy landing early, but Patrick Curran levelled immediately.

The visitors were looking quite comfortable in possession as they began to find their range with Michael Bradley firing over and Conal Cunning with the first of half a dozen first-half scores.

Curran and Jamie Barron pegged the visitors back, but three on the spin from Antrim was a fair reward for their play.

Playing into the wind, Waterford were forced to try and work the ball a little closer to goal for shots, and centre-back Callum Lyons popped up with two in the opening period,

That big moment came on 23 minutes when Campbell was dismissed, but the visitors would remain a step ahead going into the half as Cunning continued to convert frees and Gerard Walsh landed one from deep to help Antrim into a 0-11 to 0-09 advantage at the break.


Cunning extended the Antrim lead from a free early in the second period, but with the elements in their favour, Waterford began to go long and after DJ Foran was denied by Tiernan Smyth after making a great catch, the tactic paid off as another route-one approach led to a foul on Neil Montgomery by Stephen Rooney inside the penalty area and Curran blasted home the award to tie the game.

Despite this latest setback, Antrim continued to stay in the hunt with Cunning on target from frees, but Waterford were more effective in open play as Lyons hit his third of the afternoon from deep.

Niall O’Connor and Jack Prendergast traded points with Cunning then nudging the visitors back in front for the final time on 56 minutes only to be cancelled out by Conor Prunty who split the posts from deep inside his own half.

Just as it seemed we were in for a tense finish, Gleeson nudged the hosts ahead again and this was the first of a run of five points on the spin inside of four minutes with Prunty landing another from deep, while Jack Fagan and DJ Foran got in on the act.


This was the gap on 68 minutes when Antrim were awarded a penalty of their own as Paddy Burke was deemed to have been denied a goalscoring opportunity inside the area by Calum Lyons and although Gerard Walsh struck his effort well, O’Brien made an acrobatic save.

That was effectively that as Gleeson reeled off a hat-trick of late scores including a beauty from play to seal Waterford’s victory and leave Antrim still searching for their first points of the campaign.

Nothing has really changed in respect to the league however.  Antrim will be disappointed not to leave the south coast with the points on offer but a more consistant and improved performance will help them as they prepare for the next game in two weeks time.  That game with Laois in Corrigan Park where the winner will basically secure their Division One status for next season.

WATERFORD: Shaun O’Brien; Conor Gleeson, Conor Prunty (0-02), Conor Ryan (0-01); Shane McNulty, Calum Lyons (0-03), Jack Fagan (0-01); Gavin Fives, Paddy Leavey (0-01); Jamie Barron (0-01), Patrick Curran (1-04, 1-00 pen, 0-02 frees), Neil Montgomery (0-01); Jack Prendergast (0-01), DJ Foran (0-01), Reuben Halloran

Subs: Carthach Daly for S McNulty (HT), Austin Gleeson (0-05, 4 frees) for R Halleron (45), Padraig Fitzgerald  (0-01) for P Curran (54), Patrick Fitzgerald for N Montgomery (61), Colin Dunford for P Leavey (66)

ANTRIM: Tiernan Smyth; Paddy Burke, Ryan McGarry, Stephen Rooney; Gerard Walsh (0-01 free), Eoghan Campbell, Conal Bohill; Michael Bradley (0-01), Paul Boyle (0-01); Keelan Molloy (0-02), Niall McKenna, Neil McManus; Conal Cunning (0-11, 10 frees), James McNaughton, Seaan Elliott.

Subs: Niall O’Connor (0-01) for C Bohill (33), Eoin O’Neill for S Elliott (HT), Nigel Elliott for N McManus (46), Joe Maskey for P Boyle (57), Rian McMullan for N McKenna (70+3)

REFEREE: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

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