Well beaten Antrim must now turn their attentions to next Sunday in Mullingar

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship round-robin 4

Galway 5-29 Antrim 1-22

Antrim left Pearse Stadium today with a lot on their minds after taking a nineteen point beating from Galway in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship in their penultimate game in the Leinster round-robin game. However  events on the other side of the country, where their final game opponents Westmeath staged a remarkable comeback from 16 points down to beat Wexford was very much in their thoughts as well.

The midlanders remarkable comeback means that Antrim must now beat the Midlanders in Mullingar next Sunday to stay in the Leinster championship, instead of getting a draw, which had appeared to be the likely scenario. If Antrim do manage to pull off a win over the Lakelanders, and already qualified Kilkenny beat Wexford in the last game, then Wexford will find themselves relegated to the JoeMcDonagh Cup, while Antrim and Westmeath will remain in the championship.

During the first half of Sunday’s game Antrim had battled well and were in contention for most of the first-half, but as Galway upped the pace in the lead to half time they stretched their lead and were in complete control by the half time whistle as they lead by 2-17 to 1-07

Antrim got away to a great start as Eoin O’Neill ran at the Galway defence before passing to Niall McKenna who was brought down by a Galway defender and Conal Cunning fired home the resultant penalty. Conor Cooney and Evan Niland came back with points to cut the gap to a single point but Enda Og McGarry hit Antrim’s first from play to put them 1-2 to 0-4 up, but when Galway rattled off the next five on the spin, with Cooney and Niland hitting two apiece and Padraic Mannion also on target the picture was slowly changing

Antrim responded with points from Conor Cunning and Keelan Molloy but on 28 minutes, but things began to slip for the Glensmen when a Ronan Glennon’s shot for a point came back off the post and the loose ball was whipped to the net by Conor Whelan. When Paddy Burke replied with a point to reduce the gap to four, things didn’t look too bad but Galway came strong in the final minutes as Niland, Cooney, Kevin Cooney and Declan McLoughlin all sent over points before Whelan delivered a killer blow as he drilled the ball to the net to put his team 2-15 to 1-7 ahead at the break. .

To their credit Antrim kept battling after the restart but they missed a couple of early scoring chances while at the other end Conor Cooney, Joseph Cooney and Declan McLaughlin all found the target.

James McNaughton did get Antrim away in the second period with a points on the run, but they were hit with a third goal straight after as a good move resulted in Kevin Cooney blasting home.

Three points in quick succession lifted Antrim spirits but Galway’s fourth goal wasn’t far away and on 47 minutes, Tom Monaghan got in and fired home his team’s fourth goal from a narrow angle.

James McNaughton had a great shot at goal saved by the Galway netminder, and though the Loughgiel man pointed the resultant 65, the intensity of the game was fading a bit. With next weekend’s game in their minds both teams made a raft of changes which killed the pace of the game, but Galway still had a goal in them, and Liam Collins got his side’s fifth major with a fine finish.

One promising thing in the final minutes was Daniel McKernan, who was making his return after a long absence through injury, came on and hit  three good points for the Saffrons, and the Sarsfields man should be available for next week’s crucial decider in Mullingar

GALWAY: E Murphy; J Grealish, G McInerney, D Morrissey; P Mannion (0-2), D Burke, F Burke; J Cooney (0-2), C Mannion; R Glennon, E Niland (0-8, 2 frees, 2 65s), C Cooney (0-7); K Cooney (1-2), C Whelan (2-0), D McLoughlin (0-4).

Subs: T Monaghan (1-2) for C Mannion (7), TJ Brennan (0-1) for F Burke (head injury, 15, not reversed), C Fahy for R Glennon (48), A Tuohey (0-1) for D Burke (53), L Collins (1-0) for C Whelan (53), J Ryan for J Cooney (62)

ANTRIM: T Smyth; P Burke (0-3), G Walsh, S Rooney; R McGarry, C Boyd, N O Connor; K Molloy (0-1), E Og McGarry (0-1); E O’Neill (0-1), C Cunning (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-2 frees), N McKenna (0-1); D Nugent (0-1), J McNaughton (0-4, 1 free, 1 65), C Johnston (0-3).

Subs: P Boyle for G Walsh (HT), J Maskey (0-1) for D Nugent (50), D McKernan (0-3) for C Cunning (50), S Walsh for K Molloy (55), A Bradley for E O’Neill ( blood sub, 62, not reversed), C McKernan for P Burke (64)

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary)

The Paddies in Salthill as Daniel McKernan (23) made a welcome return when introduced as a second half substitute

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