Antrim dig deep to scupper Down
Antrim 1-24 Down 0-23
Antrim produced a strong finish to qualify for the final of the Christy Ring Cup after a thrilling game at Loughgiel yesterday. At half-time, it looked like it was going to be Down's day, as they bossed the opening 35 minutes.
Eddie McCloskey was cautioned after just 10 seconds, but it was Down who opened the scoring through a Conor O'Prey '65. Down moved three ahead before Antrim scored through Conor Johnston, but Down continued to rack up the scores with Danny Toner and Conor Woods leading the way. Antrim relied on the free-taking of Clarke to stay in touch but the Ardsmen were full value for their 0-13 to 0-7 lead at the break.
Antrim stormed right back after the restart when Carson batted into the net on 37 minutes. While Donal Hughes replied at the other end, the Saffrons were on top and by the 45th minute, they were back on terms. The sides were level going into the final minutes. Antrim moved ahead, thanks to three Clarke frees, but Down's frustrations boiled over, with McGrath and Conor O'Neill red-carded and Carson sealed the win for Antrim. Down's Jordan Doran received a red card after the final whistle, but it is Antrim who will appear in Croke Park.
Scorers - Antrim: C Clarke 0-16 (12f, 1 '65); C Carson 1-1; N McKenna 0-3; E McCloskey, J Dillon, E Campbell, Conor Johnston 0-1 each. Down: D Toner 0-9 (5f); C Woods 0-4; C Taggart, D Hughes, C O'Prey (2f, 1 '65) 0-3 each; C Egan 0-1.
Antrim: C O'Connell; O McFadden, T McCloskey, C McKinley; S McCrory, N McAuley, M Burke; E Campbell, C Johnston; E McCloskey, J Dillon, N Elliott; C Johnston, C Carson, Ciaran Clarke. Subs: N McKenna for N Elliott (h-t), J Connolly for J Dillon (h-t), S McAfee for C Johnston (62).
Down: S Keith; M Conlan, P Flynn, J McManus; C O'Neill, C Taggart, J McGrath; S Ennis, F Conway; C Mageean, C O'Prey, D Hughes; D Toner, C Woods, S Nicholson. Subs: C Egan for P Flynn (48), B Byers for S Nicholson (60), J Doran for F Conway (65), O McManus for C Taggart (70).
Referee: D Hughes (Carlow)
Sunday Indo Sport