Daly mulls over Dublin future
If anything sums up the Dublin hurlers' season, this was it. Their week started with a big victory over Clare, continued with a Leinster U-21 title and ended with a devastating defeat to Antrim and with question marks over Anthony Daly's future.
The Clareman says he will consider his position after watching his side throw away a six-point second-half lead at Croke Park, scoring just one Alan McCrabbe free in the last 23 minutes.
Having been denied at the death by Offaly earlier this year, Antrim deserved their day in the sun and a place in the quarter-finals thanks to Karl Stewart's winning point after a remarkable comeback.
It may have proved too much for Daly, however, as a lack of progress this season might see him walk away after two years at the helm.
"It's a big setback," he said. "There's been a good bit of progress, but that is a big setback, there's no question.
"I don't know (if I'll stay with them). I've another year, we said that at the start of the year, but my attitude to that would be that we'll have another look at it at the end of the year.
"If my message isn't getting through, then you'd have to reconsider. They are devastated. What do you do? Do you give up or do you keep coming back for more? It mightn't be with me, but they have to come back for more. They are young and they have a huge amount of hurling in front of them."
Antrim raced into a 1-3 to 0-2 lead after Tomas Brady and Oisin Gough misjudged a Stewart ball that allowed PJ O'Connell in for a goal.
Dublin fought back to go in level at half-time with Peadar Carton scoring three points from play and Simon Lambert -- in for the sick John McCaffrey -- playing well at midfield.
Neil McManus' frees kept Antrim in the game, but Dublin came out roaring after the break with McCrabbe contributing four frees and a '65' to an 0-8 haul to Antrim's 0-2.
Leading 0-18 to 1-9, the Dubs switched off and Antrim took over. Dinny Cahill brought on Barry McFall and Eddie McCloskey and those switches worked, with McFall making an impact. Slowly they ate into Dublin's lead, McManus, Liam Watson, Karl McKeegan and Sean Delargy all pointing before McNaughton levelled as the game went into injury-time.
Dublin, who had spurned two fine goal chances with Paul and Liam Ryan going close, had a chance to win it when Declan O'Dwyer's point attempt went wide. Antrim swept up the field and Stewart pounced on a loose ball to steal it.
"I always felt Antrim hurling was as good as any other county," Cahill said. "You could see that there's a brilliant bunch of players there. I'm delighted for them."
SCORERS -- Antrim: N McManus 0-8 (0-8f), PJ O'Connell 1-1, L Watson (0-1f), K McKeegan, S McNaughton (0-1f) 0-2 each, S Delargy, K Stewart 0-1 each. Dublin: A McCrabbe (0-7f, 0-1 '65') 0-9, P Carton, S Lambert (0-3f) 0-3 each, J Boland, L Rushe, D O'Callaghan, P Ryan 0-1 each.
ANTRIM -- C O'Connell 8; K McGourty 6, C Donnelly 9, S Delargy 7; P Shiels 6, J Campbell 7, C Herron 7; S McNaughton 8, K Stewart 7; S McCrory 6, N McManus 7, T McCann 6; PJ O'Connell 8, L Watson 7, K McKeegan 7. Subs: B McFall 7 for Shiels (46), E McCloskey 7 for McCann (53), M Herron for McKeegan (69)
DUBLIN -- G Maguire 6; N Corcoran 6, T Brady 6, O Gough 7; S Hiney 7, J Boland 7, M O'Brien 6; S Lambert 8, S Durkin 5; P Kelly 5, L Rushe 5, D O'Dwyer 5; P Carton 7, D O'Callaghan 5, A McCrabbe 7. Subs: P Ryan for Durkin (h-t), M Carton for Kelly (51), D Treacy for O'Callaghan (54), L Ryan for Rushe (56), K Flynn for O'Brien (64).
REF -- D Kirwan (Cork) 7.