Antrim 2-18 Laois 2-16
Antrim’s hurlers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at Casement Park yesterday, overturning a 10-point second half deficit to edge ahead of Laois in injury time and deny Teddy McCarthy’s side their first Division 1B points.
Second half goals from Cushendall duo Conor Carson and Shane McNaughton dragged the Saffrons back into the game, with Paul Shiels sealing the win with a 74th minute point.
Laois dominated the first half and led by 1-9 to 0-4 at the break.
Chris Murray got the visitors off to the perfect start with a goal on 11 minutes, all Antrim’s first half points coming from McNaughton.
Even with wind advantage in the second half, Antrim took a while to get going but then strung five unanswered points together, the pick of which came from sub Barry McFall.
The gap was cut to two points on 54 minutes when Conor Carson lashed the sliotar to the net.
Laois were back in control when Brendan Reddin flicked home the rebound from Willie Hyland’s saved penalty but when McNaughton found the net on 61 minutes, Antrim trailed by the minimum, 2-13 to 2-12.
A Simon McCrory point had Antrim ahead on 71 minutes, Hyland replied, but late points from McNaughton and Paul Shiels sealed the win for Antrim who can qualify for the 1B final by beating Limerick on Sunday.
Antrim: S McToal; A Graffin, C Donnelly (0-1f), J Kerr; N McAuley, N McManus (0-4), M Gettins; K Stewart, P Shiels (0-2); S McCrory (0-1), M Herron, D Hamill; PJ O’Connell (0-1), C Carson (1-0), S McNaughton (1-8, 4f). Subs: B McFall (0-1) for Hamill, D Lynch for O’Connell.
Laois: E Reilly; P Mullaney, D Maher, C Coonan; C Dunne, M Whelan, M McEvoy; J Fitzpatrick, J Walsh; D O’Mahoney (0-2), W Hyland (0-9, 0-6f), D Peacock; C Murray (1-2), W Dunphy (0-1), S Burke (0-1). Subs: B Reddin (1-0) for Peacock, G Burke for Mullaney, A Collier (0-1) for Dunphy, N Unwin for Burke.
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath).