Clarke shines for Saffrons in stroll against Down
Antrim 3-15 Down 0-12
Antrim comfortably saw off the challenge of Down in Saturday's clash at Cushendall to seal a place in the May 20 semi-final.
It was the sixth outing in as many weeks for the Saffrons and co-manager Dominic McKinley is looking forward to a well-earned rest.
"It's been a tough few weeks and we know that that wouldn't be good enough, but we also know our players and we have confidence and belief," said McKinley.
"In the next two weeks we'll get a bit of hurling done."
Down, meanwhile, are back in action on Saturday in a quarter-final against London.
"Antrim are two leagues above us and they've players coming out of their ears. We have three senior clubs. But we're going to keep going. We've 20 lads in there who are committed," said Down boss Marty Mallon.
Down started well and led by 0-3 to nil thanks to free-taker Scott Nicholson, but two penalties from Ciaran Johnston had Antrim leading 2-6 to 0-9 at the break.
Ciaran Clarke's accuracy from placed balls kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Saffrons and he notched their third goal after intercepting a short puck-out.
Scorers - Antrim: C Clarke 1-7 (5f, '65'), Ciaran Johnston 2-0 pen, N McKenna, E Campbell and C McCann 0-2 each, P McGill and Conor Johnston 0-1 each. Down: S Nicholson 0-7f, D McManus 0-3, E Sands and G Johnston 0-1 each.
Antrim: C O'Connell 7; S McCrory 7, J Dillon 9, R Diamond 6; E Campbell 8, P Burke 7, Ciaran Johnston 8; C McKinley 8, P McGill 8; M Connolly 6, C McCann 7, J McNaughton 6; Conor Johnston 6, O McFadden 7, C Clarke 8 Subs: S Rooney 7 for R Diamond (39), N McKenna 7 for M Connolly (ht), D McKernan 6 for J McNaughton (51), C Carson for P McGill (65), J Maskey for P Burke (66)
Down: S Keith 8; C Taggart 8, M Hughes 7, S Ennis 7 ; B Nicholson 7, C Woods 6, M Ennis 7; D Hughes 7, D McManus 8; C Mageean 7, M Magee 6, C O'Prey 7; E Sands 6, G Johnston 7, S Nicholson 8 Subs: A Bell 7 for C Woods (21), O McManus 6 for M Magee (55)
Ref - J Keane (Galway)