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Hurling: Clare 0-20 Antrim 0-12

The Antrim hurlers were left reeling at Cusack Park, Ennis yesterday when they were on the wrong side of an eight point final outcome in in the National Hurling League’s Division 1B.

Despite the long journey, Antrim manager Jerry Wallace must have been in a relatively buoyant mood beforehand, considering his charges had recorded a merited six point victory over Wexford in the opening round.

But a fine second half display by the home side left him with plenty of food for thought, as he now prepares for his next fixture against Offaly.

The Saffrons, who played in a changed white strip, would have been happy with their opening half performance, trailing by just a single point, (0-8 to 0-7) at the break.

But when Clare re-emerged for the second half, they upped their performance immediately and shot five quick unanswered scores.

It proved to be Antrim’s undoing and though the Banner county were reduced to 14 men in the 51st minute, it did little or nothing to change the complexion of the game.

Even though Clare’s right-corner-back Domhnall O’Donovan was sent off by referee Brian Gavin on a straight red card for striking out at Antrim’s PJ O’Connell it seemed to spur the Clare boys on.

At half-time, Antrim introduced sub Kevin Sheeran to full-forward in place of the ineffectual Conor McCann, but the big attacker came off second best against Cian Dillon.

The Glensmen did manage to reduce the deficit to five by the 59th minute but two bad wides by Karl Stewart and O’Connell, allowed Clare off the hook.

Clare then struck four in a row through sub Caimin Morey, McGrath twice and O’Connell to assert their authority.

To add insult to injury for Antim, they too ended up with 14 participants when midfielder Neil McManus was also given his marching orders.

Scorers: Clare: N O’Connell (0-6) 4 f’s, C McGrath (0-6) 4 f’s, C Ryan (0-3), C Morey (0-2), J Conlon, D Keane, C McInerney (0-1) each; Antrim: S McNaughton (0-5) f’s, N McManus (0-4) 1 f, K Stewart, PJ O’Connell, C McFall 90-1) each.

Clare: P Kelly, D O’Donovan, C Dillon, C Cooney, B Bugler, P O’Connor, E Barrett, N O’Connell, P Donnellan (Capt.), J Conlon, D Keane, F Lynch, C McInerney, C McGrath, C Ryan. Subs: C Morey for McInerney (59), J Clancy for Lynch (69), L Markham for O’Connell (69).

Antrim: C O’Connell, A Griffin, C Donnelly, K McGourty, K B McShane, N McAuley, S McCrory, N McManus, M Gettens, K Stewart, M Herron, C McFall, S McNaughton, C McCann, PJ O’Connell. Subs, K Sheeran for McCann (half-time), D Lynch for McFall (46), D Hamill for O’Connell (67).

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).

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