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All-Ireland Hurling Championship: Better late than never for Antrim boss Cahill

Antrim 2-18 Carlow 3-12

Dinny Cahill praised the character of his side after they came from behind to secure a late win over Carlow in the All Ireland senior hurling championship qualifiers at Casement Park.

Antrim needed four late points to seal the win after trailing for most of Saturday night’s game.

Carlow led from the fifth minute when a Craig Doyle goal put them 1-0 to 0-1 ahead after Karl McKeegan had fired Antrim in front after just 17 seconds, and the Cushendall clubman was on target again in the 69th minute to level matters.

Near the end Karl Stewart then put Antrim ahead for the first time since the opening minute, and McKeegan and Eddie McCloskey secured the win for the Ulstermen with injury time points.

“We knew Carlow were going to be a tough nut to crack. We looked at them last week and they put up a tremendous performance against Laois,” said Cahill. “They got the two goals in the first half and we had a goal disallowed so it was an uphill task, but we’re delighted to come through in the end.

“I thought we finished well in the first half. We were the dominant team at that stage and we should have got more out of it but we knew if the lads stuck at it we’d come out on top.

“That’s what we asked them to do and they stuck at it well.

“That’s the character that’s in this team. They have trained exceptionally well and when you have the hard work done you don’t want to go out of the Championship. There were some great passages of play.

“You have your moments of dominance and you have to be able to punish teams when you are dominant and that’s just what we did in the second half.”

Cahill could face the possibility of a clash against his native county Tipperary in the next round of the qualifiers but insists he has no preference for the phase three clash which takes place on July 17.

“When you’re ready for the Championship, you don’t mind who’s there with you,” he said. “It’s the next round of the Championship and that’s what we’ve been training for.”

Carlow led by five at the break, 2-6 to 0-7, courtesy of two Doyle goals.

Paudie Kehoe extended that lead after the restart with Carlow’s third goal, but a Liam Watson penalty brought Antrim back into the game.

PJ O’Connell bagged Antrim’s second major on 51 minutes, and six minutes later the sides were level when Neil McManus pointed a free to leave the score 2-12 to 3-9.

Carlow went ahead but Simon McCrory and Stewart raised flags for Antrim and then those four late points broke the visitors’ hearts, sealing the Saffrons’ first McCarthy Cup win since 2007.

“We always knew we had a good fighting spirit and it showed near the end of the game,” said McKeegan.

Antrim: C O’Connell; K McGourty, C Donnelly, S Delargy; P Shiels, J Campbell, C Herron; S McNaughton (0-3, 0-1f), K Stewart (0-3); C McFall, N McManus (0-5, 0-1f two ‘65’), T McCann; PJ O’Connell (1-0), L Watson (1-1, 1-0 pen), K McKeegan (0-4). Subs: S McCrory (0-1) for C McFall, B McFall for T McCann, E McCloskey (0-1) for PJ O’Connell

Carlow: F Foley; A Corcoran, S Kavanagh, D Shaw; E Coady, E Nolan, R Coady (0-1f); J Hickey, D Byrne; C Doyle (2-3), M Brennan (0-1), Hugh P O’Byrne (0-1); A Gaule, D Murphy, P Kehoe (1-6, 0-5f, one ‘65’). Subs: J Rogers for J Hickey, R Foley for D Murphy, E Byrne for E Coady, A McDonald for D Byrne, A Brennan for A Gaule

Referee: A Stapleton (Laois)

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