Antrim recorded their second win in a row under new boss Kevin Ryan as they eased past a lacklustre DIT challenge in the Walsh Shield final at Casement Park.
On a bitterly cold night, the game began in driving rain and this seemed to affect both teams as they took a while to settle.
The sides traded early scores and were level at 0-3 apiece after 15 minutes when Paul Shiels set up Neil McManus to put Antrim into a lead they would hold until the final whistle.
They doubled that lead when McManus fed the impressive Matthew Donnelly for a monster score from range but the students replied with the pick of the first half points when substitute Mike Moloney sent a line ball from 35 metres out on the left between the uprights.
Antrim gradually took over with McManus and the excellent Kevin Barry McShane to the fore and held a four-point lead approaching the break when McManus followed up Paul Shiels’ saved shot to poke to the net at the second attempt and open a 1-10 to 0-6 half-time advantage.
The Saffrons picked up where they left off after the break with Shane McNaughton pointing just seconds in before Matthew Donnelly’s shot for a point dropped short but DIT goalkeeper Finn McGarry dropped the ball into the net.
Trailing by 11, DIT staged a mini revival and hit 1-3 to Antrim’s 0-1 over the next ten minutes — Moloney with the goal when he crashed a 21 meter free in off the underside of the crossbar on 49 minutes to add to his two ‘65s and a point from Cuala’s David Treacy.
However, they were not to score again as Antrim skipper Neil McManus gave an exhibition of point taking. The Cushendall man hit six of his side’s last nine scores, the others coming from Donnelly and substitutes Darren Hamill and Kevin McKiernan to seal a comfortable win and ensure the Ulster champions head into their league opener in Limerick on February 24 with some momentum.
Antrim: S McToal, M Gettens, C Carson, B McFall, S McCrory (0-1), N McAuley, C McKinley, C Laverty, M Donnelly (1-1), P Shiels, P Doherty (0-1), S Beattie (0-1), N McManus (1-9, 0-4 frees, 0-1 ’65), KB McShane (0-4), S McNaughton (0-3). Subs: C McFall for P Doherty (30 mins), D Hamill (0-1) for P Shiels (55 mins) K McKiernan (0-1) for S McNaughton (61 mins), N Peoples for S Beattie (65 mins), K McKeague for C McKinley (65 mins).
DIT: F McGarry, J Divney, G McManus, C Harney , D Curran, K Bergin, C O’Shaughnessy, S O’Connor, P Phelan, S Ryan (0-1), N Quinn (0-1), J McManus, T Connolly (0-1), W Cullen (0-2), D Treacy (0-1). Subs: M Moloney (1-3, 1-0 free, 0-2 ‘65s, 0-1 sideline) for C Harney (16 mins), F Power for P Phelan (22mins), C McCormack for J McManus (half-time), Jack Hobbs for S Ryan (40 mins), C Hughes for W Cullen (55 mins).
Referee: Kevin Brady (Louth).