Sport Hurling

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Fennelly joy after Laois stay in mix

Laois 0-20
Antrim 0-16

Daragh O Conchuir

Brendan Fennelly is happy that his Laois team are "alive and kicking" in their chase for promotion. The O'Moores kept their hopes alive with a hard-fought victory over Antrim despite the heroics of the Saffrons 13-point sharpshooter, Neil McManus.

Laois had their own ace marksman in Willie Hyland, who contributed eight points, but, crucially, the Clough-Ballacolla man had more support than McManus. Six other Laois men got on the scoreboard, including the impressive Chris Murray, who snaffled four points from play.

"For both teams it was a have-to-win game, and it doesn't put us in any great shape to qualify for the top two, but if they had lost the game the league was over, and we were very aware of that coming into it," said Fennelly. "So we're alive and kicking heading down to Limerick next week."

The hosts got off to a lightning start as they popped over the first six points in the opening 10 minutes. The highlight was a wonderful effort from the middle of the field by Sean Burke, but Brian Dunne's point from tight on the right sideline about 40 metres out wasn't far behind.

McManus and Antrim began to get into their stride though, and the Ruairi Og attacker had accumulated a staggering eight points by the time the sides went in level at the break, 0-10 apiece.

There was never much between the sides after the resumption, with Hyland and McManus continuing to trade blows. Laois had the benefit of a strong wind though, and some outstanding strikes from distance by James Walsh and Murray edged them two points clear.

Eddie McCloskey received a straight red card after an altercation with Burke, which made it more difficult for Antrim, and Laois were able to see it out from there to the end.

Man of the Match: Neil McManus (Antrim)

Scorers -- Laois: W Hyland 0-8 (7f), C Murray 0-4, B Dunne, N Foyle (1f) 0-2 each, M Whelan (1 '65'), J Walsh, S Burke, J Brophy 0-1 each. Antrim: N McManus 0-13 (10f, 1 '65'), K Stewart, D Hamill, S McCrory 0-1 each.

Laois -- P Mullaney; JA Delaney, B Campion, B Stapleton; J Fitzgerald, M Whelan, B Galvin; J Walsh, S Burke; B Dunne, W Hyland, C Murray; J Purcell, T Fitzgerald, J Brophy. Subs: O Holohan for Purcell (h-t), N Foyle for T Fitzgerald (49), E Costelloe for Hyland (60).

Antrim -- C O'Connell; N McAuley, C Donnelly, A Graffin; K McKeague, M Herron, J Campbell; K Stewart, C McFall; N McManus, E McCloskey, S McCrory; D Hamill, C Carson, L Kearns. Subs: S McNaughton for Kearns (50), K Molloy for McKeague (57), T McCann for McCrory (68).

Ref -- C Lyons (Cork).

Irish Independent

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