Antrim take Division 2A title with thrilling win over Carlow
ANTRIM secured their return to Division 1B of the National Hurling League after a thrilling three-point over Carlow in Pairc Esler today.
Two first-half goals proved crucial for the Saffrons with Eoghan Campbell finding the net after nine minutes before Neil McManus converted a penalty to help the Ulster champions to a 2-5 0-7 lead at half-time.
Antrim scored two quick-fire points to push their advantage to six with Paddy Burke and Deaglan Murphy on target but the Barrowsiders finally found their stride and forced their way back into contention.
Corner-forward Seamus Murphy fired over midway through the half when he had the goal at his mercy while Paul Coady and Martin Kavanagh’s free-taking chipped away at Antrim’s lead.
Colm Bonnar introduced Denis Murphy, Jack Murphy and the lively Kevin McDonald and Carlow made it a one-point game when John Michael Nolan pointed seven minutes from time.
Following a McManus free, Antrim sub Ciaran Clarke scored a wonder point upon his introduction while McManus landed a monster free from over 70 metres out as Antrim sought to close out the game.
However, a late 21-metre free gave Martin Kavanagh the chance to force extra-time after Denis Murphy was forced but his shot was well saved by Antrim goalkeeper Chrissy O’Connell.
Antrim scorers: N McManus 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-3fs), D Murphy 0-4 (0-4fs), E Campbell 1-0, C Clarke, C Johnston, N McKenna, P Burke 0-1 each.
Carlow scorers: P Coady 0-7 (0-6fs, 0-1 65), M Kavanagh 0-3 (0-1 65), J Nolan, E Byrne, S Murphy, J Murphy, K McDonald 0-1 all.
ANTRIM: C O’Connell; S Rooney; J Dillon, C McKinley; S McCrory, M Donnelly, P Burke 0-1; E Campbell, P Shiels; N McManus, C McCann, C Johnston; N McKenna, N McAuley, D Murphy.
Subs: O McFadden for McAuley (48mins), C Clarke for Murphy (57mins), J McNaughton for Campbell (68mins).
CARLOW: J Carroll; A Corcoran, P DOyle, G Bennett; D Byrne, D English, R Coady; J Kavanagh, S Whelan; J Nolan, M Kavanagh, E Byrne; C Nolan, P Coady, S Murphy.
Subs: J Doyle for S Whelan (HT), K McDonald for C Nolan (42mins), R Kelly for D English (51mins), D Murphy for S Murphy (57mins), J Murphy for J Kavanagh (61mins).
REFEREE: M Murtagh: (Westmeath)