Wednesday 13 December 2017

Mighty Donnelly keeps Wexford at bay

Allianz NHL Division 1b

Antrim 3-18 Wexford 2-15

When Wexford asked the questions at Casement Park yesterday, Antrim had the answers in this entertaining battle.

Once they settled, this was a tigerish display from Antrim, who had a number of stars all over the field. The Slaneysiders were forced to call in all five substitutes -- three at half-time -- in the hope of stemming the tide.

The scores were level twice over the opening five minutes before Wexford slipped into gear with fast off-the-ball running. Midfielder Eoin Quigley fired home a goal on seven minutes and by the 12th they were 1-4 to 0-2 ahead.

Saffrons boss Jerry Wallace had a quiet word with his midfield men -- who were labouring -- during an injury break, and it seemed to work as Antrim began to compete more effectively, and when Shane McNaughton found the net after 19 minutes, the home side led 1-6 to 1-4.

Kevin Sheeran went clear for another Antrim goal on 20 minutes and 14 minutes later Karl Stewart rocketed in a third to leave the winners 3-9 to 1-7 ahead at the break.

After Sheeran's goal, Wexford were awarded a debatable penalty but Antrim goalkeeper Chris O'Connell produced a marvellous save.

The changes in the forward department for the second half gave Wexford added impetus with three unanswered points from the reserves, and the gap was closed to four points by the 53rd minute.

But with full-back Cormac Donnelly superb, and combining well with wing-half Neal McAuley, chances were limited for the Wexford attack, although the visitors did have a couple of goal opportunities that were missed.

The losers managed only three points in the closing 18 minutes, while Antrim piled on seven points in the closing stages for a six-point victory.

Man of the Match: Cormac Donnelly (Antrim)

SCORERS -- Antrim: S McNaughton 1-7 (6f), K Stewart 1-3, PJ O'Connell 0-3, K Sheeran 1-0, N McManus (2f), M Herron 0-2 each, N McAuley 0-1. Wexford: E Quigley 2-0, T O'Leary, G Sinnott, G Moore (2f), P Morris (1f), R Jacob, J Berry (2f) 0-2 each, R Kehoe, PJ Nolan, S Murphy 0-1 each.

ANTRIM -- C O'Connell 8; A Graffin 6, C Donnelly 9, K McGourty 6; N McAuley 7, N McManus 7, S McCrory 6; K Stewart 7, B McFall 6; S McLaughlin 5, M Herron 6, C McFall 6; S McNaughton 8, K Sheerin 5, PJ O'Connell 7. Sub: KB McShane 5 for Sheerin (52).

WEXFORD -- E Martin 6; B Kenny 6, M O'Hanlon 8, B Kehoe 7; D Stamp 6, K Rossiter 7, C Kenny 7; E Quigley 7, J Leacy 6; R Kehoe 5, D O'Keefe 5, PJ Nolan 6; T O'Leary 6, G Sinnott 5, G Moore 6. Subs: P Morris 7 for R Kehoe (h-t), J Berry 7 for Leacy (h-t), R Jacobs 7 for Moore (h-t), S Murphy 5 for O'Leary (54), J Guiney 5 for O'Keefe (61).

REF -- E Hasson (Derry).

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