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Antrim push All-Ireland champions Galway all the way in league opener


By Declan Bogue

THE story of hurling, and possibly the entire weekend, was the incredible performance produced by Antrim hurlers in Salthill as they pushed last year's National League and All-Ireland champions all the way, losing narrowly in the end, 1-19 to 1-16.

It was a day that opened with the Saffrons giving the Tribesmen a guard of honour as All-Ireland champions but from then on, they paid them absolutely no respect as they gave their all in a seriously entertaining encounter.

Conor McCann's goal kept Antrim in the hunt well into the final quarter, but Michael O'Donoghue's men just found another gear when they hit five points in the last three minutes to rescue the points.

Antrim chose to play with the aid of the typically gusty Salthill breeze for the opening half and but for a goal arriving from Galway's Brian Concannon on the stroke of half-time, they would have been in front.

The Antrim management team of Terence McNaughton and Dominic McKinley, who appointed Dominic's son Conor McKinley as captain prior to the weekend, will be heartily encouraged by a sensational showing.

In the Ulster-centric world of Division 2B, Wicklow easily took care of Armagh, minus their Middletown contingent who were otherwise engaged in their defeat to Kanturk in the All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final, on a scoreline of 4-20 to 1-12.

Derry met Down in Owenbeg and they experienced a similar outcome to their footballing counterparts, losing 1-14 to 2-17.

In Mayo, Donegal made the trip down the western seaboard to face the hosts and found them in uncharitable form as they were defeated 2-16 to 1-9.

In Division 3A, Tyrone's game against Warwickshire had to be moved to Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh's ground with fears over the Healy Park surface. The Red Hands were taken care of by the exiles on a 2-14 to 3-16 scoreline.

Meanwhile, Lancashire hosted a 'home' game of sorts against Fermanagh at Tir Na nÓg's ground at Randalstown. Minus Danny Teague who was playing with the county footballers and the honeymooning Ryan Bogue, the Erne men went down 2-25 to 1-11.

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