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Brave Antrim stumble to cup loss as Laois triumph

 

By John Campbell

Even a display of courage above and beyond the call of duty by ace sharpshooter Neil McManus was not sufficient to prevent Antrim from stumbling against Laois in the Christy Ring Cup competition at Dunloy.

McManus had stitches inserted in a nasty groin wound following last week-end's fractious game against Carlow yet stepped up smartly to power over 11 points against a Laois side who nonetheless managed to close out the game and win by 1-20 to 1-19.

Ross King landed 12 of the Laois points with Willie Dunphy hitting their goal while Ciaran Clarke's goal for the Saffrons came too late.

Even the fact that Lee Cleere was shown a red card failed to disrupt the Laois rhythm in the closing stages as they kept Antrim at bay.

Conor Johnston (3) and James McNaughton (2) contributed to Antrim's points tally after they had trailed by 0-11 to 0-8 at the half-way stage.

But there was another bonus for Down in the Christy Ring Cup when they beat London by 2-22 to 1-23, with a late goal from Daithi Sands proving crucial. Danny Toner helped himself to 1-6 and Paul Sheehan registered 0-7.

Following their runaway win over Armagh last week-end, Down found the going much tougher against a stubborn London side who led by 1-12 to 1-10 at the half-way stage.

Down showed considerable composure after the break with Toner and Sheehan in particular clinical in their finishing.

Down will now meet Derry on June 2 in their final group game in the competition.

For their part, Derry, too, progressed by overwhelming Armagh by 2-30 to 1-14.

Meehaul McGrath and Naoise Waldron scored Derry's goals while Stephen Renaghan netted for the orchard county who led by 1-12 to 1-8 at half-time but were demolished after the break by Derry's pace and power.

In the Lory Meagher Cup, seven points from John Duffy helped to sustain Fermanagh's challenge against Cavan who totted up 2-16 to the Erne county's 1-19 in an exciting drawn game.

John Sheanan and Sean Keating hit the net for Cavan while Ciaran Rafferty scored Fermanagh's goal.

Monaghan lost to Warwickshire by 1-21 to 3-11 while Donegal were too strong for Leitrim winning by 2-28 to 0-7. in the Nicky Rackard Cup.

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