Brace of goals see off determined Down

Peadar O’Liathain Cup Final (U-17 Leinster B Hurling Final)

Antrim 2-11-0-14 Down 

Kevin Herron reports from Corrigan Park 

Goals in each half from Niall McGarel and Jack McCloskey saw Antrim get the better of Down in an exciting U-17 Leinster B’ Hurling final at Corrigan Park on Wednesday evening. 

Both sides claimed narrow one-point victories over Carlow and Meath respectively to ensure an all-Ulster affair in the Peadar O’Liathain decider. 

It was Down who made the quickest start as they hit the opening two scores through a floated point from Michael Dorrian and a converted free from Tiarnan Connolly. 

Niall McGarel was the go-to man for Antrim in their victory over Carlow and got his side off the mark with Connor Dickson landing the equaliser from long range shortly after. 

The hosts had the chance to take the lead from the spot after referee James Connors spotted an infringement in front of the posts. But Niall McGarel saw his effort parried to safety by Down net-minder Pearse Smyth. 

Connolly angled his side back in front – though McGarel atoned for his penalty miss with a goal that gave Antrim the advantage at the first half water-break. 

On 16 minutes Aodhan McGarry got in behind the Down defence and played the ball across the face of goal – where McGarel turned the ball to the roof of the net to make it 1-02-0-03. 

Tiarnan Connolly (free) led his sides response and parity was restored for the second time when Michael Dorrian fizzed over his second point of the evening, despite a goal chance presenting itself in the first instance. 

Rory Corcoran landed a fine score from range to edge Down back in front- only for Niall McGarel to convert a free. 

Further scores were traded before the break, Finn Turpin converted a long range free with McGarel levelling the scores at the break at 1-04-0-07. 

Finn Turpin nudged his side back into the lead early in the second half from his second converted free of proceedings. 

Antrim hit back as Aodhan McGarry swung over a fantastic reply and they missed the chance to regain the lead for just the second time. Jack McCloskey closed in goal and dragged his shot across the face of goal and inches wide. 

Half time substitute Calum O’Neill converted a free to move Down back ahead for a short period until Connor Dickson quickly replied for his second of the evening. 

It was end to end stuff as Michael Dorrian landed a terrific point to bring his tally to 0-03 and give his side a 0-10-1-06 lead. 

Though on 44 minutes a second goal of the game had Antrim back in front for the second time. 

Aodhan McGarry popped the ball off to Padraig McKillop who in turn found half-time substitute Jack McCloskey and the Loughgiel corner-forward steered his low shot past Pearse Smyth and into the corner of the net. 

Substitute Jack McCloskey steers home his sides second goal to give Antrim a 2-06-0-10 lead

Down responded terrifically and levelled thanks to back-to-back converted frees from Callum O’Neill and then hit the front again. 

Despite seeing a goal chance go a-begging from Criostai McAuley’s fumble; Bryan Rice was only able to force the ball between the large posts and his side moved 0-13-2-06 ahead at the second half water-break. 

A second converted Niall McGarel free had the sides level for the seventh time over the course of the evening and the corner-forward would move his side into the lead for the final time on 55 minutes. 

Anthony McGarrigle slipped a pass into McGarel’s path and the Oisin’s forward landed his fifth point and third from play. 

The Saffrons extended their lead through a fine Daire McMullan score from range and then Jack McCloskey angled over another to make it four scores on the spin and move his side 2-10-0-13 in front. 

Four minutes of injury-time was added as Down sought scores that would bring them back into contention. 

Callum O’Neill converted his fourth free since his midway introduction but dragged another opportunity wide of the target in the last minute of added time. 

And McGarel landed a 65’ which would be the insurance point as Antrim ran out 2-11-0-14 winners at the end of a thrilling encounter at Corrigan Park. 

Antrim: C McAuley, F Henry, R McCormick, D Mooney, E McCartan, D McMullan (0-01), D Kearney, O Gillen, C Dickson (0-02), A McGarry (0-01), C McKeown, J McLaughlin, N McGarel (1-06, 0-02f, 0-01 65’), D Quinn, D Patterson. Subs: J McCloskey (1-01) for J McLaughlin (HT), A McGarrigle for C McKeown (HT), P McKillop for D Quinn (39), J Bakewell for D Patterson (55), R Mort for O Gillen (63). 

Down: P Smyth, O McGrattan, D Mallon, M Duffy, D Magee, F Turpin (0-02f), R Corcoran (0-01), F Casey, F Gilmore, M Dorrian (0-03), T Connolly (0-03, 0-01f), C Lenaghanne, M Doran, B Rice (0-01), O Birt. Subs: D Cunningham for O McGrattan (19), C O’Neill (0-04f) for C Lenaghanne (HT), A Rogan for M Dorran (39), J Roddy for F Gilmore (51), C Fowler for B Rice (55). 

Referee: James Connors (Donegal)

Antrim edge out Carlow in Leinster U-17 Championship

Leinster U17 B Hurling Championship 

Carlow 1-13 – 1-14 Antrim 

Antrim team pre-match

Antrim edged out Carlow by a single point in the Leinster U-17 B Championship clash at Abbotstown Centre of excellence on Wednesday evening. 

The visitors began on the front foot with Glenariffe froward Niall McGarel pointing twice within the first eight minutes – the first from a free and the second a well taken point from play. 

In-between Kyle Nolan had responded with a free for Carlow who took the lead after nine minutes when Shane Kelly powered an effort past Cristai McAuley in the Antrim goal. 

Points were traded in the aftermath between Odhran Gillen and Conail Fitzpatrick before three scores in succession saw Antrim regain the lead.

Full-forward Ronan McCollum chipped in with his first of the evening and Niall McGarel took his tally to 0-03 to level proceedings, before Daire McMullan converted a free from range to make it 0-06-1-02 at the water-break. 

Carlow quickly regrouped at the small interval and barged back into the driving seat with five scores in a row. 

Midfielder Donagh Murphy swung over the leveller and points followed from Kevin Kavanagh and Shane Kelly. 

Murphy conjured up his second from a side-line cut and added another to put his side firmly in control with a 1-07-0-06 advantage before the break. 

Antrim were set-back further with a red-card to one of their forward players- though a converted free from McGarel ensured they trailed by Shane Kelly’s goal at the break. 

Despite being reduced to 14-men the pendulum swung back in the visitors favour after a dream beginning to the second half. 

Niall McGarel’s tally of 0-09 helped the Saffrons to victory

Niall McGarel topped up his tally with four points on the spin, two of them converted frees to bring his tally to four for the evening and the other two were well taken scores from play. 

It nudged the Saffrons ahead once again and a further point from Cormac McKeown was quickly followed by a Joe Mclaughlin goal on 42 minutes to give his side a 1-12-1-07 lead. 

Carlow slashed the deficit to three as they hit a purple patch in the aftermath, Donagh Murphy converted a free, landed a 65’ and then swung over another from play to leave the game on a knife-edge going into the last ten minutes. 

McGarel split the posts for his nineth score of the evening which temporarily gave Antrim a bit more breathing space. But back-to-back points from Shane Kelly and Luke Kavanagh left the bare minimum separating the sides. 

Scores were traded between Daire McMullan and Donagh Murphy in injury-time though there wasn’t enough time for Carlow to land the equaliser and force extra-time as Antrim hung on to secure a hard-fought win at Abbotstown.


Antrim no match for Laois

Bord Gáis Energy Leinster Under 20 Hurling Championship

Laois 4-27 Antrim 0-7

Antrim’s under 20’s was simply no match for their Laois counterparts in Tuesday evenings Leinster championship match in Navan. After a scoring burst midway through the first half which yielded 2-2, there was simply no way back for the northerners. 

It was a devasting period that turned the tie on its head and as their confidence drained from their souls, the young Saffron’s never recovered.

It had all started so brightly too.

After Ciaran Magill had levelled the tie on five minutes, Niall O’Connor put Antrim ahead two minutes later. However, Laois soon restored parity when Tadhg Cuddy knocked over his second free of the evening. And from here, the O’Moore county kicked on and never looked back.

On 13 minutes Cuddy’s effort came back off the upright and James Duggan reacted quickest to the breaking ball to swoop for the games first goal, and less than two minutes later Duggan stormed through the visitor’s defence to hammer home his second major of the evening.

Duggan and Cuddy added further points to the Laois scorecard and at the waterbreak Antrim trailed 2-5 to 0-3.

Things didn’t improve for Antrim after the break as Gearoid Lynch claimed Laois’ third goal of the game on 20 minutes before Duggan went on to claim a further 1-3 before Cuddy claimed his seventh point of the half on the stroke of half time to give their side a commanding twenty point advantage, 4-12 to 0-4, with Conal Bohill and Declan McCloskey adding to Antrim’s tally.

The homeside kept their foot firmly on the accelerator as two efforts from Cuddy and Tomas Keyes helped stretch their lead further before a Rian McMullan free broke the scoring sequence on 41 minutes.

As the game ticked into its closing stages Bohill pointed for the second time before Rory McCloskey let his frustration get the better of him. The full back picked up a second yellow card on 53 minutes for a rash challenge on Lynch.

It capped off a night to forget for Antrim as Laois comfortably advance to a meeting with Kilkenny.

Teams & Scorers:

Laois: Lorcan Fitzpatrick, Ian Shanahan, Alan Connolly, Danny Brennan, Padraig Brennan (0-1), Ciaran Burke, Niall Coss (0-1), Tomas Keyes (0-2), Thep Fitzpatrick, James Duggan (2-4), Tadhg Cuddy (0-15 9f), Gearoid Lynch (1-1), Ciaran Byrne (0-1), Mark Hennessy (1-0), Cathal Murphy.

Subs: Bryan Bredin for Burke (43), Eddie Critchley (0-2) for Murphy (45), Conor Walsh for Hennessy (50), Lawson Obular for Coss (54),

Antrim: Paul Doherty, Donal Kearney, Rory McCloskey, Conor Henry, Enda McGarry, Niall O’Connor (0-1), Declan McCloskey (0-1), Ciaran Magill (0-1), Cormac Donnelly, Daire Murphy, Conal Bohill (0-2), Dannan McKeough, Rian McMullan (0-1f), Michael McGarry, Seanie McIntosh.

Subs: Aidan Scullion (0-1)

Good start and good finish gives Antrim victory over Down

Leinster Under 17 Hurling Championship

Down 2-11 Antrim 2-17

Paul McIntyre was in Portaferry.

A fast start and a storming finish helped Antrim to a Leinster minor hurling round two clash against either Westmeath or Meath following a great championship battle with neighbours and rivals Down on Wednesday evening in Portaferry.

Six points separated the sides at the final whistle but just nine minutes previously, it had all looked so different as Down were enjoying their best spell of the game and a one point lead. But the young Saffron’s dug deep, and helped by some fresh impetus from the bench, claimed the final seven scores to cap off a drama packed second half.

Afterwards manager Paul Donnelly was quick to praise the resolve and the squad effort of his side. “I just said to the team it takes twenty players boys, and more to get a good performance and today we used twenty players and everyone came on and done the business for us.”

“We made a good start with young Jack McCloskey scoring a couple of goals fantastic player, fantastic talent and I think our work rate dropped a little bit. Fair play to Down, they came back into the game, showed resolve showed resilience and a very competitive game in the end. And I’m glad to say we made three or four substitutions who made a big difference.”

After seeing an eight point lead turn into a one point deficit, before claiming the final seven scores Donnelly commented “That’s what we are looking for. There is obviously a number of things we are looking for. It’s work rate, its attitude, it’s application. I think today over the course of the entire game we got that.”

Antrim started the game with intent and purpose and following Ronan McCollum’s opening point, Jack McCloskey blasted past Pearse Smyth in the Down goal for a four point lead with barely four minutes on the clock.

Down responded with a free from Finn Turpin and a score from Michael Dorrian but Antrim kept the pressure up on the home defence with quick ball to the inside forward line proving too much for the home defence.

Niall McGarel and McCollum added to Antrim’s total before McCloskey raised a green flag for the second time in the game on 16 minutes.

Wing back Daniel Kearney claimed a Down puck out following a McCloskey point and he immediately sent the ball back to from where it came from and the Sarsfields marksman showed composure belying his young years to pick out the top corner of Smyth’s net.

Down came back into the contest after the waterbreak with two points from Dorrian but McGarel and Kearney made sure Down had plenty to do as we approached half time.

On the stroke of the short whistle, Donal Magee’s 65 was adjudged to have gone the wrong side of the post and at half time Antrim thought they held an eight point lead, but after deliberating with his team of officials, Magee’s effort was given as a score and the scoreboard read Down 0-5, Antrim 2-6 at the break.

Antrim stilled looked very much in control at the start of the second half as they lead by eight points but the game was turned on its head in the 36th minute with the awarding of a penalty to Down.

Full back Ruairi McCormick fouled Bryan Rice and to make matters worse, was also forced to sit out the next ten minutes due to a black card. Smyth came up from the Down goals to blast past Críostaí McAuley and Down were now back in the contest.  

Down were maybe lacking some self-belief in the first half but that had all changed now Fergal Gilmore, Odhran Birt and Deaglan Mallon made it a one score game before McCollum settled Antrim nerves with a much needed score to restore a four point lead.

That was a lead that didn’t last long as Adam Rogan’s attempt at a point ended up in the Antrim net. Two minutes later Mallon pointed his third placed ball of the game to give the Mournemen the lead for the first time.

But with McCormick returning from the sin-bin and the Antrim bench making an instant impact, the Saffrons found another gear. Joe McLaughlin was very instrumental in the closing stages as he kick started the revival with two points while McCormick atoned for his earlier foul with a monster point which from near half way after cutting out a Down attack.

Half back Daire McMullan pointed a free before assisting McLaughlin for his third of the evening before McGarel capped off a ruthless Antrim spell with the final score of an enthralling contest.

Teams & Scorers:

Down: Pearse Smyth (1-0 Pen), Sean Mageean, Deaglan Mallon (0-3 2F 1 65), Matthew Duffy, Donal Magee, Finn Turpin (0-2 1F), Rory Corcoran, Seán O’Neill, Calum Fowler, John Ruddy, Michael Dorrian (0-3), Cormac Blaney, Odhran Birt (0-1), Bryan Rice (0-1), Oran McMeel.

Subs: Fergal Gilmore for O’Neill (HT), Oisin McGrattan for Mageean (HT), Tiernan Connolly for Blaney (40), Adam Rogan (1-0) for Corcoran (44).

Antrim: Críostaí McAuley, Finn Henry, Ruairi McCormick (0-1), Deaglán Mooney, Enda McCartan, Daire McMullan (0-1f), Daniel Kearney (0-1), Odhrán Gillen, Connor Dickson, Aodhán McGarry (0-2), Anthony McGarrigle, Caoimhín Killyleagh, Niall McGarel (0-3 1 f 1 65), Ronan McCollum (0-3), Jack McCloskey (2-3 0-1f).

Subs: Declan Quinn for Dickson (HT), Joe McLaughlin (0-3) for Killyleagh (HT), Darragh Patterson for McCartan (43), James Bakewell for McGarrigle (53), Cormac McKeown for McCollum (57).

Referee: Mr Aiden McAleer (Donegal)

Antrim see off determined Laois at Corrigan

Allianz National Hurling League Division One, Group B

Antrim 2-23-1-22 Laois

Kevin Herron reports from Corrigan Park

Antrim wrapped up their first year back in Division One of the National Hurling League with a hard fought 2-23-1-22 win over Laois at Corrigan Park this afternoon.

There mightn’t have been much at stake in terms of league positions- with Laois already condemned to the relegation play-off against Westmeath pre match but the game certainly didn’t disappoint and was action packed throughout. 

Antrim hit the front inside sixty seconds with Conal Cunning converting an early free and the Dunloy frontman angled over another from play shortly after.

It took him a while to settle into the game but Conal Cunning really hit his stride in the second half, ending with 0-9 overall, three from frees, one from a 65, four from play and a real peach direct from a sideline cut. A fine day’s work overall.

Eoin O’Neill added his sides third and after Eoghan Campbell disposed Eanna Lyons in midfield he popped it off to Aodhan O’Brien who conjured up a fourth.

It took Laois ten minutes to get off the mark through a Jack Kelly score and the visitors halved the deficit through a converted Ross King free.

The sides then traded scores, Niall McKenna lost possession momentarily but won it back and sent it high between the posts. However, Ryan Mullaney won a puck out from Ryan Elliott and returned it over the bar.

Conal Cunning converted his second free of the half and the Saffron almost had the opening goal as Eoghan Campbell slipped the ball inside and Daniel McCloskey released Eoin O’Neill whose effort was flicked out for a 65’ which Cunning converted to make it 0-07-0-03 at the water break. 

The hosts extended the lead after the short breather- Conor Johnston steered the ball off to Paddy Burke who conjured up a point.

Laois were almost in on goal a few minutes later when Stephen Maher fed Ross King who took off towards goal, but the angle was tight, and King was unable to beat Ryan Elliott.

Instead, it was Antrim who increased their lead, Paddy Burke picked out Seaan Elliott for a point and Conal Cunning dusted himself down to convert a free after his run was halted following a fine pass from Gerard Walsh.

Paddy Purcell replied from range for Laois, though three succession points followed for Antrim.

Ryan McGarry slipped the ball to Niall McKenna who squeezed the ball over at the near post, Conor Johnston then fed Seann Elliott for a point and Johnston was again involved- linking up with Eoghan Campbell who shot over to give his side a 0-13-0-04 lead.

Laois ended the half on the front foot with points coming courtesy of Ciaran Collier, Jack Kelly and goalkeeper Enda Rolland (free) to ensure they trailed 0-13-0-07 at the interval.

Eoghan Campbell played with his old burgandy coloured Mycro helmet for years and never scored a goal. Today he changed to a green one midway through the game and low and behold he finds the net right away. Another fine performane from the Ruairi Og man.

Laois picked up where they left off before the break with a score from Ryan Mullaney- his second of the afternoon and Ross King then popped the ball over on the run.

Antrim were almost in on goal shortly afterwards as Niall McKenna fed Conal Cunning and Laois shot stopper Enda Rowland was at full stretch to deny Cunning.

Eoin O’Neill got the hosts first score of the half, but Jack Kelly replied instantly with a fantastic score on the burst.

A fine score followed from Willie Dunphy and a converted free from Ross King reduced arrears to two-points with Laois in the ascendancy.

Antrim’s go to man Conal Cunning averted any potential panic within the Saffron ranks with back-to-back scores and Seaan Elliott followed up with another a few minutes later.

It was rather helter-skelter with Stephen Maher keeping Laois in touch with a long-range point from his own half.

The sides then traded scores with substitute Ciaran Clarke opening up a five-point lead while at the other end Willie Dunphy replied from out at the wing.

The pendulum continued to swing, Seaan Elliott hit back-to-back scores – but Jack Kelly picked off a nice score and substitute PJ Scully converted a free upon his arrival to proceedings.

Ciaran Clarke controlled a pass and flicked over for his second point since replacing Daniel McCloskey, though Aaron Dunphy responded instantly, and Stephen Maher conjured another score to leave three between the sides (0-21-0-18).

The opening goal would arrive after 66 minutes when Niall McCormick slipped the ball into the path of Eoghan Campbell who showed composure to strike low past Rowland to give his side a bit more breathing space.

PJ Scully converted a free in response and then set-up a grandstand finish with a goal on the 70th minute.

James Ryan spotted Paddy Purcell in space, and he slipped it across to Scully in space with the substitute powerfully finding the net to make it 1-21-1-19.

Even a Dunloy man gets a hug from a Loughgiel mentor at the end of the game but when Seaan Elliott scored five points from play on his senior debut Johnny Campbell’s congratulations were well merited

It was a frantic finish on the Whiterock Road as Antrim had the chance to restore their five-point lead, Eoghan Campbell picked out Conal Bohill whose low effort crashed off the post and out.

Conal Cunning and Jack Kelly traded points and Cunning then executed a magnificent side-line cut to claim his ninth score of the afternoon.

A second goal arrived for the hosts through Niall McCormick after Conal Bohill found Ciaran Clarke and his off load to McCormick found its way to the roof of the net to make it 2-23-1-20 on the scoreboard.

Laois responded with late points through Aaron Dunphy and PJ Scully but it wasn’t enough to stop the Saffrons as Antrim secured their Division One status and finished their league campaign unbeaten at Corrigan Park.

Antrim’s Niall McKenna solos past two Laois defenders.

Antrim: R Elliott; D McMullan, G Walsh, S Rooney; R McGarry, P Burke (0-01), A O’Brien (0-01); E Campbell (1-01) M Bradley; N McKenna (0-02), Conor Johnston, E O’Neill (0-02); D McCloskey, C Cunning (0-09, 0-03 f, 0-01 65’, 0-01 sideline), S Elliott (0-05).
Subs: P McCallin for Conor Johnston (HT), M Donnelly for G Walsh (41), C Clarke (0-02) for D McCloskey (43), Ciaran Johnston for M Bradley (55), N McCormack (1-00) for E O’Neill (55), R McCambridge for A O’Brien (65), C Bohill for N McKenna (65).

Laois: E Rowland, D Conway, S Downey, L Cleere, R Mullaney (0-01), C McEvoy, S Maher (0-02); J Kelly (0-05), P Purcell (0-03), E Lyons, J Keyes, C Collier (0-01); W Dunphy (0-02), R King (0-03, 0-02 f), C Dwyer.
Subs:J Lennon for E Lyons (HT), C Phelan for J Lennon (52), D Hartnett for D Conway (55), A Dunphy (0-02) for C Collier (59), PJ Scully (1-03, 0-03 frees) for W Dunphy (59), J Ryan for J Keyes (68), M Whelan for LCleere (68).

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)