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Only way is up for struggling Antrim

Antrim 1-14 Laois 1-18

By John Martin

Antrim's hurlers are now rooted to the bottom of the Allianz League Division 1B table after a four-point loss to Laois at Armoy yesterday.

The Saffrons were unable to drive on to victory despite dominating the third quarter to draw level after trailing by 0-11 to 1-5 at the break.

The defeat means Antrim are still looking for their first points of the campaign, and barring a shock win over Waterford next week, will need to beat Offaly on March 22 to avoid a relegation play-off.

Zane Keenan and Ross King putting the O'Moore men two points ahead, but Antrim restored parity through PJ O'Connell and Paul Shiels.

In the 31st minute Antrim battled back into the game with the first goal through Shiels, but trailed 0-11 to 1-5 at the break.

Within five minutes of the restart the Saffrons were level with three Shiels frees, but a goal from Paddy Purcell put Laois back in the driving seat. On 63 minutes Dwyer slotted over to put Laois five to the good, and although three scores brought Antrim to within two points, Paddy Whelan and PJ Scully tacked on insurance scores for the visitors.

ANTRIM: R McGarry; R McCambridge, N McAuley, A Graffin; S McCrory, C McKinley, M Bradley (0-2); N McManus, Ciaran Johnston; E Campbell, D McKernan, P Shiels (1-7, 7f); PJ O'Connell (0-1), N McKenna (0-1), C Clarke (0-2). Subs: Conor Johnston for E Campbell (33), M Donnelly for D McKernan (ht), S McNaughton (0-1) for PJ O'Connell (43), C Carson for Ciaran Johnston (61), T O Ciarain for N McManus (65)

LAOIS: E Rowland; J Delaney, C Healy, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, J Walsh; P Whelan (0-1), P Purcell (1-0); W Hyland (0-2), Z Keenan (0-9, 7f, 0-1 '65'), C Dwyer (0-3); R King (0-1), T Fitzgerald, N Foyle. Subs: P Whelan for N Foyle (29), B Conroy (0-1) for T Fitzgerald (47), PJ Scully (0-1) for R King (65)

REFEREE: T Carroll (Offaly)

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