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Ghost point leaves Antrim hoping for replay after Meath handed Cup

Antrim 1-20 - Meath2-18

By David Mohan

Published 06/06/2016

Tight tussle: James Connolly of Antrim and Ronan Sherlock of Meath battle during the Christy Ring Cup final
Tight tussle: James Connolly of Antrim and Ronan Sherlock of Meath battle during the Christy Ring Cup final

The destination of the Christy Ring Cup is still undecided after Saturday's final, although Meath were presented with the trophy.

The Central Competitions Control Committee are set to meet on Tuesday morning to examine the referee's report, and John O'Brien of Tipperary may be asked to review the result after all in the Press box had the game ending in a 2-17 to 1-20 draw, but the scoreboard had Meath's total at 2-18.

It is likely that the game will be replayed. The issue seemed to be centred on a Niall McKenna score for Antrim in the 63rd minute that put the Saffrons into a 1-20 to 1-15 lead, but the scoreboard operator seemed to have mistakenly give the point to Meath as it read 1-19 to 1-16 on the big screens.

An Adam Gannon point at the other end narrowed the gap to four, but according to the board it was just two when members of the Press noticed the error. Moments later, Antrim's tally moved on to 1-20, but the extra point wasn't taken off Meath's total and eventually led to much head scratching as the Royals completed a magnificent comeback and celebrated a victory while others disputed it.

Antrim officials were handed a copy of the DVD by broadcasters, TG4 after the game and will review the footage before deciding upon their next move.

However, it really shouldn't have come to this for Antrim who led by nine points on 27 minutes and looked on course for victory. Conor Johnston banged home a 15th minute goal after being set-up by Ciaran Clarke with the pair along with James Connolly, Eoghan Campbell, Niall McKenna and Eddie McCloskey all raising flags as Meath had to rely on three James Toher frees to stay in touch.

However, Antrim began to lose their way in the closing stages of the half and were only 1-10 to 0-7 ahead at the break. Despite Antrim's lead, there was a sense that Meath were well in this game. That hope became belief on 41 minutes when a stray Odhran McFadden handpass was gleefully picked up by Heffernan and buried into the net.

Antrim moved 1-18 to 1-12 clear by 55 minutes but still Meath refused to wilt and they hit three of the next four points to stay in touch.

McKenna hit that point to leave five (or so we thought) in it, but they failed to take some good chances late in the game to end it once and for all.

Meath sensed they had a chance and on 70 minutes Sean Quigley rattled the net before Quigley pointed from an angle in injury time for what we though was the equaliser but proved to be the winner.

Meath celebrated wildly while Antrim looked bewildered.

MEATH: S McCann; S Geraghty, D Donoghue, R Sherlock; S Brennan, D Healy, K Keoghan (0-2); S Heavey (0-1), S Morris; J Toher (0-5, all frees), J Keena (0-3), A Gannon (0-3); G McGowan, N Heffernan (1-1), S Clynch. Subs: K Keena (0-1) for S Clynch (52 mins), S Whitty for G McGowan (55 mins), S Quigley (1-1) for N Heffernan (64 mins).

ANTRIM: C O'Connell; S McCrory, T McCloskey, M Burke; O McFadden, N McAuley, C McKinley (0-1); E Campbell (0-1), E McCloskey (0-3); N McKenna (0-3), C Carson, J Connolly (0-4); Conor Johnston (1-2), J Dillon (0-1), C Clarke (0-5, 1 free, 1 65). Subs: P Burke for M Burke (7 mins), M Dudley for J Dillon (48 mins), F Donnelly for O McFadden (61 mins).

Referee: John O'Brien (Tipperary)

Belfast Telegraph

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