Friday 21 July 2017

Delargy inspires Saffrons comeback

Ulster U-21 HC final: Antrim 0-16 Derry 1-9

Antrim captain Damon McMullan following his side's victory after the Bord Gais Energy Ulster GAA Hurling U21 Championship Final. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Antrim captain Damon McMullan following his side's victory after the Bord Gais Energy Ulster GAA Hurling U21 Championship Final. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Antrim were forced to dig deep to retain their Ulster U-21 hurling crown as Derry came up short with their bid to upset the odds at Loughgiel last night.

Derry started strongly and were full value for their half-time lead of four points, with Cormac O'Doherty providing the early sparkle for the underdogs.

Antrim's Damon McMullan and Derry's Brian Cassidy challenge each other for possession. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Antrim's Damon McMullan and Derry's Brian Cassidy challenge each other for possession. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The Slaughtneil sharpshooter struck in the third minute when he kicked home what proved to be the game's only goal.

O'Doherty's conversion of a 19th minute sideline stretched Derry's lead to four (1-3 to 0-2) and while Antrim gradually warmed to their task, the gap was still four in favour Tom McLean's men at the interval.

Clearly stung into action by the half-time words of Antrim boss Ollie Bellew, the reigning champions were a different animal after the break.

Alec Delargy drove the Saffrons on from midfield and fired over one inspirational point from play to put his team back on track.

Derry's Mark McGuigan tries to get past Antrim's Paddy Burke. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Derry's Mark McGuigan tries to get past Antrim's Paddy Burke. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Saul McCaughan top scored for the winners - nailing nine frees including seven in the second half to confirm Antrim as provincial champions for the eighth consecutive time.

Scorers - Antrim: S McCaughan 0-9 (all fs), M Connolly 0-3, G Walsh (f), A Delargy, C Ross and C McNaughton 0-1 each. Derry: C O'Doherty 1-7 (6fs), G McCormac and D Foley 0-1 each.

Antrim - C Heyden, D McMullan, T Burns, R Diamond, G Walsh, P Burke, J Maskey, R Gillen, A Delargy, M Connolly, D Nugent, J O'Connell, S McCaughan, TT Butler, R McKee. Subs: C Ross for Gillen (21), C McNaughton for O'Connell (h-t), E McManus for Diamond (34), R Delargy for Nugent (55).

Derry: S Cassidy, G Farren, P Turner, P McNeill, S McGuigan, M McGrath, R McCartney, E McGill, P Burke, T Magee, M McGuigan, D Foley, G McCormac, C O'Doherty, B Cassidy. Subs: S Quinn for Magee (24), B Laverty for Burke (49), D Carton for Foley (53), Tiarnan O'Kane McCartney (58).

Ref - A Ferguson (Fermanagh)

Irish Independent

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