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Antrim 2-20 Derry 1-09: Kearney targets Dubs after Saffrons retain title

By Cahair O'Kane

Antrim boss Ciaran Kearney believes that his side can compete with Dublin after retaining the Ulster minor title in comfortable fashion against Derry.

It took the Saffrons until the early part of the second half to create a substantial gap between themselves and their Oak Leaf hosts, but the victors were fully deserving of their win.

Christy McNaughton led the way in the scoring stakes, hitting 1-8 for the winners, and the lively Diarmaid McShane, Conal Doherty-Cunning and Keelin Molloy all impressed for Antrim.

Despite Antrim's attack being the more impressive Derry were well in the game up until the interval.

Corey O'Reilly caused flickers of panic in the winners' defence with his pace and, when Keelan Feeney scored a goal of the season contender, Derry were within a point seven minutes from the break.

That made it 0-8 to 1-4, but sloppy defending from the hosts handed Antrim a goal of their own. They went to sleep on a free and allowed Christy McNaughton to go short to McShane.

Derry keeper Conor Owens had to take a yellow card to prevent the goal in the first instance, but from the 21-metre free McNaughton buried it through the crowd of bodies on the line.

Doherty-Cunning added a point that made it 1-10 to 1-4 at the break and Derry resumed with John Mullan on the edge of the square in a man-for-man system.

Antrim were 11 points clear, 1-16 to 1-5, midway through the half and substitute CJ McKenna's clever finish three minutes from the end put the seal on it.

"We went after we played Galway last week and watched Dublin against Kilkenny," said Kearney.

"Dublin should hold no fears for an Antrim team. We'll respect the ability they have, they're very good and very strong, but at the same time they're a Dublin minor team.

"The boys play an All-Ireland quarter-final and they play what they think they've seen in the last 10 years, rather than the fellas that are hurling on their current minor team.

"We'll respect them but if we go and hurl the way we can, we'll earn our own respect."

Derry: C Owens; N Smyth, C Kelly, F O'Kane; C Boyle, C McAllister, P Turner; T Magee, O McKeever; C O'Reilly (0-5, 0-3f), C Hunter, J Grant; D Cartin (0-1), J Mullan (0-1), K Feeney (1-2). Subs: D Shaw for Smyth (47), S Quinn for Hunter (59)

Antrim: B Connor; O McKenna, C Blair, C Carson; J Maskey, G Walsh (0-2, 0-1f), S Duffin; C McMullan, K Molloy (0-2); C Doherty-Cunning (0-2), C Leech (0-1), C McNaughton (1-8, 1-6f); D McShane (0-3), A Burke, R McKee (0-2). Subs: D McKernan for McKenna (26), C Small for Burke (40), C Patterson for McShane (48), CJ McKenna (1-0) for Leech (54), J Daniels for Maskey (57)

Referee: A Ferguson (Fermanagh)

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