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Antrim 1-15 Derry 1-14: McKinley leaves it late to make it 14 in a row

By David Mohan

Published 13/07/2015

Just champion: Chris O'Connell lifts the Liam Harvey Cup
Just champion: Chris O'Connell lifts the Liam Harvey Cup

Conor McKinley was the Antrim hero at Owenbeg yesterday as his last-gasp point sealed a 14th straight Ulster Senior hurling title at the expense of Down.

The Dunloy man floated over from range in injury-time to secure the victory in what was a keenly-contested if not spectacular affair.

The Saffrons were missing a host of regulars due to injury, suspension and holidays and they looked a little off the pace for long stretches of this encounter.

However, they finally found a way to win to offer some cheer to their supporters after what has been a dismal 2015.

It was the experience of Conor Carson and Conor McCann that really dragged them back in when things were going wrong and it looked like Down might finally bring to an end their long winning streak.

Antrim actually looked well paced early on when Conor McCann's shot dropped short but evaded Daniel McKernan and Michael Hughes who were battling for possession.

However, it also then caught out Down goalkeeper Stephen Keith and the ball ended up in the back of the net to give the defending champions a 1-1 to 0-1 advantage.

After this it was nip and tuck in the first half with Antrim relying on the accuracy of Dessie McClean from frees for their scores, while Down replied with a fantastic Conor Woods score and a Johnson free to retain a narrow lead in the 27th minute.

This was when referee David Hughes awarded them a penalty when Johnson was trailed down by Thomas McCann.

The big Ballygalget man stepped up and buried the resultant shot into the corner of the net and Down led 1-9 to 1-6 at the break.

The Saffrons continued to fight back after the restart, although Down thought they had the winner from Donal Hughes' point, but PJ O'Connell responded in kind before McKinley's winner in added time.

Antrim: C O'Connell; O McFadden, M Donnelly, R McCambridge (0-1); J Dillon, C McKinley (0-1), T McCann; N McAuley, M Dudley; PJ O'Connell (0-1), C McCann (1-1), E Campbell; D McClean (0-6, all frees), C Carson (0-2), D McKernan (0-1). Subs: C Ross (0-1) for M Donnelly (HT), P Burke for E Campbell (HT), N McKenna for N McAuley (42 mins), J Connolly (0-1 free) for D McKernan (56 mins), D Traynor for D McClean (56 mins).

Down: S Keith; M Hughes, S Ennis, M McCullough; R Brannigan, C O'Neill, D McManus; P Sheehan (0-1), F Conway; C Woods (0-1), J McCusker, S Dineen (0-1); J McManus, G Johnson (1-8, 1-7 frees), J Coyle. Subs: C Fitzsimon (0-1)s for J Coyle (12 mins), M Ennis (0-1) for J McCusker (24 mins), D Hughes (0-1) for P Sheehan (HT), S Nicholson for F Conway (59 mins), M Turley for C Fitzsimons (67 mins), M Nicholson for G Johnson (70 - blood sub, not reversed)

Referee: David Hughes (Carlow)

Belfast Telegraph

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