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Saffrons struggling to stay up

By John Campbell

Antrim’s hurlers edged closer to a relegation play-off after their second defeat of the campaign away to Offaly on Sunday.

The home side held a nine-point lead at the break and although Antrim cut the gap to four points with a few minutes remaining, Shane Dooley tagged on the last score of the game to seal a 1-22 to 1-17 win for the Faithful county.

The defeat leaves Antrim one place off the bottom of the Division 1B table with one win from three games.

With just two games remaining against Laois (away) and Limerick (home), Antrim need to get back to winning ways at O’Moore Park.

The Saffrons trailed 1-12 to 0-6 at the break with Dooley finding the net for Offaly. Antrim staged a second-half comeback with Shane McNaughton and Neil McManus closing the gap. Substitute Declan Lynch fired to the net to leave five in it, 1-18 to 1-13, with 10 minutes to go, but Antrim were unable to reel in the Leinster men.

Derry and Down fought out an all-Ulster battle at Newry in Division 2A, where the Oak Leafers deservedly came away with two points from a 1-20 to 1-14 win.

Down went down to 14 men on the quarter hour mark when corner forward Conor Mageean received a straight red. Derry were 0-12 to 0-9 up at the break and effectively ended the game as a contest with a six-minute purple patch after the restart in which they added 1-4 without reply for a 10-point lead.

Paddy Henry — who finished with 1-10 — bagged the Derry goal, and although a long range Paul Braniff scored from a free midway through the second half, a Down comeback was never on the cards.

In Division 2B Armagh beat Mayo at the Athletic Grounds. The Orchardmen ran out 0-21 to 1-11 winners to move up to second place in the table behind Kildare.

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