Saffrons strike it Rich to survive relegation play-off
Antrim 2-18 Laois 0-16
Antrim secured Liam McCarthy Cup hurling in 2009 with an eight-point win over Laois at Páirc Tailteann on Saturday.
A goal from Paddy Richmond seven minutes from time sealed the win for the Saffrons against 14-man Laois who lost half back John Delaney after two bookable offences on 55 minutes.
Antrim were good value for their win but were unable to shake off the O'Moore men until Richmond's major. Shane McNaughton had given Antrim a dream start, netting after just 19 seconds.
Paul Shiels was Antrim's scorer-in-chief, accounting for 0-8 of his side's tally, all from frees, while McNaughton added 1-4 from play.
Noel Costello was in charge of Laois's dead ball duties but crucially lost his scoring touch during the second half, missing three scorable frees at vital times. It was Costello who opened the Laois account however, and along with points from John Brophy and Colm Delaney, settled the O'Moore ship after McNaughton's major.
Costello levelled moments later but three unanswered points from Johnny Campbell, Shiels and Karl Stewart sent Antrim in at half-time with a 1-10 to 0-10 lead.
Antrim extended their lead to six at the start of the second half, with two Shiels frees and a second point from the impressive Stewart.
Willie Hyland, a great point from Colin Delaney, and Brophy's second raised hopes amongst the Laois support, but John Delaney's sending-off moments later signalled the beginning of the end for Niall Rigney's side. McNaughton's point on 61 minutes signalled the start of an unanswered 1-3 for Antrim, although Hyland still had time to force McGarry into a fine stop on 69 minutes.
ANTRIM: R McGarry; A Graffin, C Donnelly, M Kettle; C Herron, K McKeegan, J Campbell (0-1); E McCloskey (0-1), PJ O'Connell; M Herron (0-1), K Stewart (0-2), P Magill; S McNaughton (1-4), P Richmond (1-1), P Shiels (0-8f). Subs: C Duffin for PJ O'Connell, C McKinley for M Herron, J McKeague for P Magill
LAOIS: P Mullaney; D Maher, B Campion, M McEvoy; J Delaney, J Phelan, C Coonan; E Holohan (0-2), J Walsh; C Delaney (0-2), W Hyland (0-2), N Costello (0-5, 3f); N Holmes (0-1), T Fitzgerald (0-1), J Brophy (0-3, 1f). Subs: J Rowney for N Costello, C Dunne for C Coonan, S Hanlon for E Holohan
Referee: J O'Mahoney (Limerick)