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Antrim fail to impress in defeat to rampant Laois

By David Mohan

Antrim hurling manager Kevin Ryan admitted his side just didn't perform as they crashed out of the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship at a wet Portlaoise.

Laois were full value for their six-point win with their impressive half-forward line contributing 12 points while the Saffrons struggled to make much headway in attack on Saturday night.

"I don't want to say we didn't show up but we didn't in terms of how we want to play," said Ryan.

"We weren't one bit surprised with Laois because we knew how they were going to play. Our forward line as a unit never really performed."

Tommy Fitzgerald netted the only goal of the game after six minutes to move the hosts 1-0 to 0-1 ahead after a Shane McNaughton free gave the Ulster side an early lead.

Antrim moved 0-5 to 1-1 ahead after 20 minutes, but from then on the Midlanders took control, leading 1-6 to 0-7 at the break, with Stephen Maher, Zane Keenan and Brian Dunne on target, while Antrim were forced to rely mainly on McNaughton and Neil McManus for scores.

Two McManus placed balls reduced the gap to one in the second period, but Laois kept the scores coming. A McNaughton free left Antrim 1-12 to 0-13 behind after 56 minutes but they failed to score again, while Laois finished strongly with Fitzgerald, Hyland and two from Keenan, one from an injury-time penalty, adding to their tally. For Antrim, the minefield of the qualifiers awaits and while disappointed, Ryan said: "We will take a night or two off training and then get together, but as I said to the boys there, they are no better or worse than they were three hours ago.

"Long-term plans don't change – it just changes where we are this year. But fair play to Laois, they were by far the better team."

Laois: E Reilly, B Stapleton, B Campion, J A Delaney, C Healy, M Whelan, G Burke, J Fitzpatrick, J Walsh, S Maher (0-4, 2 frees), Z Keenan (0-5, 1 penalty), W Hyland (0-3), J Brophy, T Fitzgerald (1-1), B Dunne (0-3). Subs: N Foyle for J Brophy (46 mins), B Duggan for G Burke (53 mins), C Dunne for J Walsh (61 mins), PJ Scully for T Fitzgerald (70 mins).

Antrim: R McGarry, B McFall, A Graffin, O McFadden, C McKinley (0-1), N McAuley, P Shiels (0-1), J McGreevey (0-1), T McCloskey, N McManus (0-5, 2 frees, 1 '65'), M Donnelly, E McCloskey, S McNaughton (0-5, all frees), C Carson, C Clarke. Subs: KB McShane for M Donnelly (HT), D Hamill for C Clarke (HT), R McCloskey for J McGreevey (45 mins), S Casey for E McCloskey (56 mins).

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).

Belfast Telegraph


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