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Student sides are taught lesson as Antrim, Down and Derry all prevail

 

By John Martin

Antrim picked up their first win of the 2019 McKenna Cup campaign with a 1-14 to 0-9 win over St Mary's UC in their final Section B group game at Woodlands, Belfast last night.

Antrim were keen to put Sunday's dismal display against Armagh behind them and they began in positive fashion with four points from four shots, Ryan Murray, Niall Delargy, Paddy McBride and Kevin Quinn all on target.

By the quarter-hour mark the Saffrons had completed six unanswered points before St Mary's got off the mark through a Stephen McConville free.

Niall Toner added the students' first from play but Antrim remained in the ascendency with three further points for a 0-9 to 0-2 lead on the half-hour mark.

Antrim's goal came on 33 minutes when Murray had the relatively simple task of palming to the net after McBride squared the ball. Ryan McSherry cut the gap in stoppage time to leave St Mary's trailing 1-10 to 0-3 at the short whistle.

Antrim dangerman Murray picked up an injury at the end of the first half and was replaced at the break by Paddy Finnegan, but with the game all but over both managers took the opportunity to empty their bench.

St Mary's boss Gavin McGilly will be pleased with the contribution of Shane McGuigan, who converted a free with his first touch on 45 minutes and also added a fine score from play.

Antrim managed just four second-half points with Ricky Johnston adding to points from McBride (2) and Owen McKeown, who completed a fine Antrim move midway through the half. For St Mary's, McGuigan added a free to his two points from play while the impressive McConville, Gerard O'Neill and Paul Gunning completed the scoring.

The win was enough to take Antrim off bottom place and above St Mary's, who finished the group on one point after drawing with Monaghan.

In Section A, Down had 22 points to spare over QUB at Pairc Esler, strolling to a 4-18 to 1-5 victory.

The Mournemen took control at the end of the first half, rattling off an unanswered 1-5 to take a 2-8 to 1-3 lead into the break.

Man of the match Pat Havern fired home the first goal on nine minutes. QUB, with a Colm O'Neill major and placed efforts from Kieran Hughes, closed the gap but a Declan McClements goal put Down in the driving seat. Second-half goals from Havern and Shane Annett helped Down to their first win of the campaign.

At Owenbeg, Derry had a convincing win over Ulster University, seeing off the students 1-20 to 0-7 in Section C. The Oak Leafers held the students scoreless in the first half and led 1-7 to 0-0 at the break, Emmet Bradley with the goal.

The one-way traffic continued with the 16-point win enough to secure best runner-up position for Derry and a place in the semis.

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