Meath outlast Antrim in extra time cracker to win Christy Ring Cup final at the second time of asking
Meath 4-21 Antrim 5-17
An astonishing finish earned Meath an epic Christy Ring final victory after extra-time at Croke Park yesterday, roared on by a passionate following in a small crowd of 2,938.
After all they have been through they showed remarkable resilience to come back from an eight point deficit in ordinary time and they looked to have been broken more than once. But they never surrendered and deservedly take their place in the Leinster Championship round robin series next year.
Meath looked to have earned a historic win after a fighting comeback over 70 minutes, before a goal from Antrim substitute Darren Hamill with the last puck forced extra-time. From eight down at the interval Meath struck back with two goals from Neil Heffernan, worked up a lead of four points and looked to have put the disappointment of three weeks earlier behind them. But Hamill’s goal left them reeling.
Extra-time brought brought more drama. When Antrim failed to clear Gavin McGowan goaled to put Meath ahead 4-16 to 4-14, having briefly conceded the lead, and at the midpoint they were two points up and showing no signs of fatigue. Sean Quigley stretched the Meath lead on the restart only for James Connolly to race through and goal and level the teams again.
Antrim tacked on two points from Ciaran Clarke and Niall McKenna and led by those scores with five minutes, appearing poised for victory. Yet Meath had one final drive in them: James Toher, who had already scored 11 frees, levelled entering injury time after a free went over from Stephen Clynch. And right at the death they won a free, Clynch scoring to leave them rejoicing.
Scorers: Meath - J Toher 0-12 (0-11 fs); N Heffernan 2-0, S Clynch 1-3 (0-2 fs), G McGowan 1-0, A Gannon, S Quigley 0-2, S Morris, J Keena 0-1. Antrim - C Clarke 1-5 (0-1 f; 0-1 65), N McKenna 1-5, C Johnston 1-2, D Hamill, J Connolly 1-0, D McKiernan 0-2, N Elliott, E Campbell, S McAfee 0-1.
Meath: S McGann; S Geraghty, R Sherlock, D Donoghue; S Brennan, K Keoghan, S Whitty; S Heavey, S Morris; J Keena, D Healy, A Gannon; G McGowan, N Heffernan, J Toher.
Subs: S Clynch for Brennan (half-time); S Quigley for Heavey (46); M O’Grady for J Keena (72); J Keena for O’Grady (82); S Heavey for Heffernan (85).
Antrim: E Gillan; P Burke, T McCloskey, S McCrory; O McFadden, N McAuley, F Donnelly; E Campbell, E McCloskey; N McKenna, C Johnston, S McAfee; N Elliott, B McCarry, C Clarke.
Subs: PJ O’Connell for Elliott (40 mins); D McKiernan for McCarry (49); J Connolly for T McCloskey (59); K Keena for Heffernan (65); D Hamill for McKenna (69); N McKenna for Johnston (half-time, extra-time); J Dillon for O’Connell (92).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).