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Saffron minors rue a terrible start as Dublin triumph

By Robert Jones

Antrim Minor hurlers crashed out of the All-Ireland Championship following an 11-point defeat at the hands of Dublin in Saturday's quarter-final clash in Kingspan Breffni Park.

The young Saffrons battled gamely throughout but were left to rue a disastrous opening 10 minutes, during which Dublin opened up an early 1-4 to no score lead with Eoghan Conroy finding the net.

Goals in either half from Conor Small and Christy McNaughton gave Antrim hope. However, a sharper, slicker and more prolific Dublin side deservedly progressed to a semi-final meeting with Munster champions Tipperary.

Ciaran Kearney bemoaned his side's poor start and felt Antrim played a part in their own downfall.

"What killed us was the start," said Kearney.

"We made fundamental errors and that was the difference.

"We didn't come down here for morale victories or anything like that.

"I don't buy into any of that.

"You don't start training in January for morale victories or running teams close - that is pointless."

Antrim looked nervous in the opening exchanges and Dublin took full advantage, hitting an unanswered 1-4 with full-forward Conroy showing Donal Carey a clean pair of heels before beating Benny Connor in the Antrim goal.

A free from Christy McNaughton after 10 minutes settled a shell-shocked Antrim and Gerard Walsh and Joe Maskey were beginning to show real leadership in defence.

The Ulster champions then gained a foothold in the game when Conor Small was played through by a wonderful pass from Ryan McKee and the Creggan teenager finished with aplomb past Dublin 'keeper Eoin Skelly.

McKee's point moments later reduced the gap back to two points.

But Antrim's hard work was quickly undone by a goal from Dublin midfielder Fergal Whitely after 20 minutes.

Dublin moved eight points clear soon after the restart but Christy McNaughton's goal on 43 minutes gave Antrim a much-needed lifeline.

However, it proved to be Antrim's final score of the contest as Dublin closed out the game in empathic style with seven answered points.

Dublin: E Skelly; C Hendricken, D Butler, C Ryan; E Foley, P Smyth, C O'Sullivan; M Oliver, F Whitely; C Sammon, M Maguire, D Gray; C Dowling, E Conroy, A Considine. Subs: G King for O'Sullivan (40mins), D Ryan for Smyth (44mins), J McGurk for Dowling (45mins), C Currie for Conroy (53mins), C Burke for Considine (59mins).

Dublin scorers: M Oliver 0-11 (0-10fs), F Whitely 1-2, M Maguire 0-3, E Conroy 1-0, C Sammon 0-2, E Foley 0-1, D Gray 0-1, A Considine 0-1, G King 0-1.

Yellow cards: C Sammon (54mins).

Antrim: B Connor; O McKenna, D Carey, C Carson; J Maskey, G Walsh, S Duffin; C McMullan, K Malloy; C Doherty-Cunning, C Small, C McNaughton; D McShane, D McLaughlin, R McKee. Subs: J Daniels for McShane (44mins), C Blair for McKenna (44mins), A Burke for McLaughlin (52mins).

Scorers: C McNaughton 1-6 (0-6fs), C Small 1-0, C Doherty-Cunning 0-2, K Malloy 0-1, R McKee 0-1, D McLaughlin 0-1.

Yellow cards: K Malloy (28mins)

Referee: J Keane (Galway)

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