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Antrim in cruise control as three goals seal first win

By John Martin

Antrim's hurlers earned their first points of the 2013 Division 1B campaign with a 3-14 to 0-13 win away to Carlow.

It is a win that ensured that Kevin Ryan's side leap-frogged their hosts at the bottom of the table, however the Saffrons need to beat Offaly on Sunday to avoid a relegation play-off.

A wind-assisted Antrim got off to a great start at Dr Cullen Park with captain Neil McManus finding the net in the fourth minute.

Twenty minutes later his Cushendall clubmate Shane McNaughton bagged Antrim's second as a shell-shocked Carlow trailed by 2-12 to 0-4 at the break.

The home side had lost their previous three games to Wexford, Limerick and Offaly by no more than five points and the expected rally came in the second half, with Marty Kavanagh notching five points, but a late goal from Stephen Beattie ensured the 10 point win for the Ulster side.

In Division 2A Derry hosted promotion favourites and table-toppers Laois at Celtic Park. With both Ruairi Convery and Liam Hinphey missing through injury, Derry struggled to reproduce the form that brought wins over Wicklow and Kildare earlier in the campaign.

The home side trailed 1-13 to 0-4 at the break, Laois's Tommy Fitzgerald with the goal. Things didn't improve for the Oak Leafers after the restart, and the in-form Zane Keenan bagged a second goal as Laois cantered to a 2-20 to 0-8 victory.

In the all-Ulster clash in Division 2B, 14-man Down eased their relegation worries with a 4-13 to 0-14 win over Armagh.

Goals from James Coyle and Gareth Johnson helped Down to a 2-6 to 0-7 lead but four unanswered scores from John Corvan, Conor Corvan, Declan Coulter and Ryan Gaffney cut the gap to the minimum, 2-6 to 0-11, at the break.

Armagh levelled after the restart but with Paul Braniff in fine form, Down despite the loss of Ciaran Coulter, began to pull away and opened up a 3-8 to 0-12 lead, Braniff with the major. Down's fourth goal arrived through Johnson as the home side saw out an 11-point win.

Another all-Ulster clash produced Tyrone's first win of the Division 3A campaign, seeing off Monaghan by five points at Clones.

The Red Hands led by 1-8 to 0-7 at half-time and ran out 2-14 to 0-15 winners.

While Monaghan are still looking for their first points of the campaign, Donegal kept their 100 per cent record with a 3-13 to 0-10 win over Louth at Letterkenny.

In Saturday's clash at Croke Park, Fermanagh went down by three points to Fingal, 1-16 to 2-10 in Division 3A.

Belfast Telegraph


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