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Kearney's boys retain Minor crown

Down 0-11 Antrim 2-15

By Tomas McGurk

Antrim retained the Danny McNaughton Cup with a comfortable 10-point win over Down in the Ulster Minor Hurling final at Owenbeg yesterday.

Boss Ciaran Kearney suffered a blow prior to throw-in when Saffrons captain Conor Carson was ruled out through illness.

Down were quickest out of the traps and led 0-3 to no score after 10 minutes with Conor McCrickard scoring three frees.

Conal Doherty-Cunning slotted over Antrim's opening three points, all from frees, to tie the game. However, a rally of scores from McCrickard, Daithi Sands and Stephen McKey restored Down's three-point advantage.

The Saffrons got their first score from play when Doherty-Cunning sent one over in injury-time as Down led 0-8 to 0-7 at the break. The lead was wiped out on the restart as Keelan Molloy levelled before Antrim took the lead for the first time when Doherty-Cunning landed another free.

A great '65' from Donal Og Rooney and a point from play from Ruairi McCrickard proved to be Down's last scores as Antrim bossed matters until full-time. Doherty-Cunning was fouled for a penalty which Donal McKernan converted to put the Saffrons 1-13 to 0-11 clear.

Further points from play came from Doherty-Cunning and Eoin O'Neill before substitute Peter McCallin put the icing on the cake by firing past Huw Flynn in the Down goal.

Kearney's side now progress to an All-Ireland quarter-final with Galway.

ANTRIM: P Carlin; C Kinsela, L Gillan, E McQuillan; S Magill, C Boyd, E Smyth; G Og Laverty, K Molloy (0-2) ; A O'Boyle (0-1), D Black (0-1), D McKernan (1-0, 1-0 pen); D McShane, C Doherty-Cunning (0-10, 0-8fs), E O'Neill (0-1). Subs: P McCallin (1-0) for O'Boyle (48mins), E Laverty for Black (55mins), C McDonnell for McKernan (57mins), R Crummey for McShane (60mins).

DOWN: H Flynn; E Kelly, P Branagan, J Carlin; C Smyth, E Coulter, D Og Rooney (0-1, 0-1 65); R McCrickard (0-1), Declan McCartney; T Murray, D Sands (0-2), C McCrickard (0-5, 0-4fs); S McKey (0-1), A Mee, A Doran (0-1). Subs: M McKey for Murray (46mins), P Miskimmon for Doran (55mins), C Hynes for Smyth (59mins).

Referee: James Connors (Donegal)

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