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Saffrons in the mood as they hold off UCD

Antrim 1-20 - UCD 1-12

By David Mohan

Published 18/01/2016

On the ball: Eddie McCloskey was on form for Antrim
On the ball: Eddie McCloskey was on form for Antrim

Antrim's hurlers rounded off their Walsh Cup campaign with a deserved eight-point victory over UCD at Queen's University's Sports Complex on Saturday.

PJ O'Mullan's side were just that bit sharper all over the field despite the heavy conditions and they played some fine hurling in this game with Liam Watson, Eddie McCloskey and Kevin McKernan catching the eye.

It was actually Nicky English's UCD side who opened the scoring in the first minute when Ross King clipped over from the right, but the hosts were soon into their stride and Michael Bradley levelled. The Saffrons were making the better headway in attack with two Watson frees on top of points from Bradley and McKernan moving them four clear.

King hit his second for UCD, but they were to mainly relying on the free-taking of O'Rourke for the remainder of the half as Watson continued to knock over the frees for Antrim while McCloskey caught a McKernan line ball in the right corner before somehow splitting the posts and then McKernan sent a sideline cut between the posts to help Antrim into a 0-9 to 0-6 half-time lead.

UCD had the first say of the second period when James Maher hit the first of his three points, but Antrim quickly re-established control with Watson hitting three frees and McCloskey chipping in with two fine scores.

An O'Rourke 65 was the only reply for the students as Watson then began to find his range from play, hitting three fantastic scores from distance to help Antrim into a nine point lead.

UCD gave themselves a glimmer of hope on 64 minutes when O'Rourke drove a 20-meter free into the net despite the best efforts of Chris O'Connell and when Maher pointed a minute later, it seemed we were in for a grandstand finish.

However, Antrim found a reply when Sian McGrath passed to Ciaran Clarke who whipped the ball to the net and Darren Hamill had the final say in injury-time with a score from range to seal an impressive win for the Ulster champions.

ANTRIM: C O'Connell; O McFadden, N McAuley, C McKinley; S McCrory, Ciaran Johnston, B McFall; K McKernan (0-3, 1 sideline), J Black; N McKenna, M Bradley (0-2), L Watson (0-9, 6 frees); Conor Johnston, E McCloskey (0-3), C Clarke (1-2). Subs: D Nugent for N McKenna (56), C Brogan for L Watson (59), D Hamill (0-1) for Conor Johnston (64), S McGrath for K McKernan (64).

UCD: D Holohan; E Conroy, S Murphy, J Madden; S Moran, C O'Shea, C Prendergast; C O'Callaghan, J Mullaney; H Lawlor, C O'Cronin; J Maher (0-3); O O'Rourke (1-5, 1-4 frees, 0-1 65), J O'Connor (0-2), R King (0-2). Subs: J Malone for J Mullaney (HT), C McGabhann for H Lawlor (47), C Devitt for O'Shea (50), T Phelan for J O'Connor (56), P Guinan for S Moran (66).

REFEREE: Kevin Brady (Louth)


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