| 5.1°C Belfast

Ryan rages at ref over costly defeat

Antrim's hurlers face a relegation play-off against Carlow after falling by two points to Offaly in yesterday's final Allianz Hurling League Division 1B group game at Casement Park.

Referee Alan Kelly left the Belfast venue with the jeers of the home support ringing in his ears and after the game Saffron boss Kevin Ryan questioned a number of decisions taken by the Galway official.

"I never talk about referees but I just can't believe that (performance). It seemed that any time we were going to get a lead the referee was going to stop us anyway," said the Waterford native.

"Any momentum we were getting was being pulled back on us for nothing. I still thought the game was there and I put it down to the referee just taking any momentum we had away from us."

Antrim twice held a four-point lead in the second half but failed to close out the game, with Offaly finishing with six unanswered scores to seal the 0-21 to 0-19 victory.

The sides were level no less than seven times during the opening half. The early exchanges were a predictable shot-out between opposing talismen with Antrim's Neil McManus and Offaly's Shane Dooley sharing the first 12 points between them.

An excellent effort from Simon McCrory followed by a Shane McNaughton point had Antrim two points to the good once approaching half-time but Ciaran Slevin added two points before the break to ensure the sides went in level, 0-11 each, at the short whistle.

On the 46th minute they were level for the eighth time when Slevin landed his third from play but four unanswered scores from the home side looked like giving a second victory of the campaign to the Ulster side.

After 57 minutes the gap remained at four points when Tony McCloskey and Slevin swapped scores, but the Saffrons failed to raise another flag. Kevin Brady added point number 20 for the Faithful with four minutes on the clock and Dooley converted an injury time free to see Offaly over the line.

Antrim: R McGarry, C McKinley, A Graffin, M McFadden; S McCrory (0-1), N McAuley, P Shiels (0-2); M Donnelly, J McGreevy; S Beatty, J McManus (0-12, 10f), E McCloskey (0-1); D McClean, C Carson, S McNaughton (0-1). Subs: T McCloskey (0-1) for M Donnelly, S McAfee (0-1) for D McClean

Offaly: J Dempsey; C McDonald, D Kenny, P Cleary; P Camon, R Hannify (0-1), K Brady (0-1); C Slevin (0-7, 4f), B Carroll; C Egan, D Molloy, G Healion; S Dooley (0-10, 7f, 0-1 sideline), J Mulrooney (0-1), T Carroll. Subs: C Pardon for T Carroll, O Kealey for D Molloy, S Ryan for P Camon.

Referee: A Kelly (Galway)

Belfast Telegraph