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Costello fires Blues to semi

A RED-LETTER day for Dublin minor hurlers as two Cormac Costello goals in the opening half helped then to victory (3-13 to 1-11) over Antrim at a damp and grey Crossmaglen on Saturday.

Classy Costello's two strikes have steered the Dubs back to Croke Park for the ESB All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship semi-final.

Proudly watching from the stand was Cormac's dad, John, the Dublin County Board CEO.

Young Costello flourished in the number 13 shirt. His pace and trickery caused Antrim a basket of problems. He came within inches of a first-half hat-trick.

"Like the senior team, we haven't a great record at scoring goals, so it was a nice couple of goals for Cormac to get," remarked Dublin manager, John Murphy.

Costello's brace helped the Blues lead at the break, 2-6 to 1-6. At that stage, Antrim had been reduced to 14 men when their full-back, Matthew Donnelly, received a straight red card for a mistimed, high challenge in the 25th minute.



Dirty

"We were very disappointed with that decision," admitted Antrim boss Kevin McNaughton. "We would have accepted it if it was a dirty tackle, but I don't think anybody in the ground thought it was a dirty challenge.

"At worse, it was rash. It definitely wasn't a red card. The boy is a very sporting hurler. Matthew is the captain and he has trained so hard.

"It totally changed the game. The lads played very well. It would have been interesting to see the final score had it remained been 15 v 15."

"The sending off had a serious influence on the game," agreed John Murphy. "From our point of view, we produced a bit of a mixed bag of a performance.

"I was reasonably happy with it, but it wasn't the type of display any manager would be going home completely happy with.

"We have a lot of work to do before the semi-final on August 15. Clare won't be shaking in their boots after watching us.

"Presumably, we'll go in as underdogs, but that's the way we like it. We'll give it our best shot."

Dubs captain Danny Sutcliffe again played his best card. He was majestic at centre half-back while Cillian Moffat excelled also.

His defensive colleagues always had to be alert. Antrim never gave up, and they had an ace free-taker in Ciaran Clarke. The Saffrons had some good pockets in the second period as they tried to close the deficit.

"Will it be the same outcome as the seniors last week?" asked a voice in the press box. But there was little chance of that. Dublin had simply too much in the tank ... and in the bank. And they had shown maturity in recovering from being behind by 1-3 to 0-1 after 13 minutes.

Daniel McCloskey rattled in the Antrim goal in the second minute at the clubhouse end after the sliotar was blocked twice. It was the opening score of the contest.

Costello's first goal came in the 16th minute as he turned sharply and finished low to the net. His second arrived in the 28th minute when he nudged one in under the slates following a cross from the left by Ciarán Kilkenny.

Dublin scored their third goal just after the tea and biscuits via Fergal Heavey's crisp, low strike. A foul on Costello then led to a Dublin penalty where James O'Mullan made a good save from Kilkenny's shot.

Despite Antrim's brave revival bid, Dublin were able to enhance their tally with returns from Cillian Moffat (2), Emmet ó Conghaile, John Hetherton, Ben Quinn, Naoise Maguire and Niall Ryan.

The Dubs hit the last four points of the contest. Job done.


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