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Kilkenny begin life after Brian Cody with hard-fought victory over Antrim

Antrim 0-15 Kilkenny 1-18


Cian Kenny of Kilkenny

Cian Kenny of Kilkenny

Cian Kenny of Kilkenny

A GOAL after 14 minutes by top-scorer Billy Drennan and a strong finish saw Kilkenny fend off a stern Antrim challenge at Corrigan Park to give new manager Derek Lyng a winning start.

The Cats began life after Brian Cody's 24-year tenure by adopting a more short-passing approach, yet as conditions deteriorated in Belfast, it was typical Kilkenny power and drive that saw them home as the hosts had got to within two with five to play.

Antrim will look back with some regrets as they made some errors that didn't help their cause and also didn't make the most of the momentum they built up in the second period.

On a day that was tricky for the shooters, there was a sense that a goal was what they needed, yet they couldn't penetrate the Kilkenny rearguard.

It was a fairly even start with the sides locked at 0-3 apiece 10 minutes in, but Kilkenny were looking that bit more menacing in attack despite a swirling wind in their faces.

Antrim goalkeeper Ryan Elliott made smart stops from Martin Keoghan and Cian Kenny but could do nothing on 14 minutes as Walter Walsh rose above Joe Maskey to fetch and popped to Drennan who burst through on the overlap and buried to the net.

The hosts were struggling to get going in attack but did put some decent phases together with Conal Bohill and Niall McKenna finishing good moves, while Cunning tapped over the frees, but Kilkenny were that bit more fluid and led 1-10 to 0-9 at half time. Drennan was knocking over the frees, while Walsh and Martin Keoghan found their range and Kilkenny could have been further clear had Kenny not blazed a good goal chance wide.

Conditions deteriorated at the break with rain pouring and wind swirling, yet Kilkenny made a decent start with a pair of Drennan scores cancelling out an early Cunning free.

Antrim then began to enjoy a good spell but would manage just three points as the wind began to play havoc with shots.

They got to within two on a couple of occasions and that was how it stood with five to play, but Kilkenny just managed to find the answers and they finished well with Keoghan (two), Drennan and Billy Ryan sealing the win. For the third year in a row, Antrim got close but not close enough to the Noresiders.

Scorers for Antrim: C Cunning 0-8 frees, N McKenna 0-2, J McNaughton 0-1, C Bohill 0-1, N McManus 0-1, P Burke 0-1, K Molloy 0-1

Scorers for Kilkenny: B Drennan 1-8 (0-7f), M Keoghan 0-3, P Cody 0-2, W Walsh 0-1,J Donnelly 0-1, P Deegan 0-1, B Ryan 0-1, A Tallis 0-1 free

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