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Seven up for super Saffrons in U21 final


On target: Conor Johnson scored the game's only goal

On target: Conor Johnson scored the game's only goal

?INPHO/Presseye/John McIlwaine

On target: Conor Johnson scored the game's only goal

Antrim made it seven Ulster under-21 hurling titles in a row, but only after they fended off the sticky challenge of a good Derry side in Ballinascreen last night.

Kevin Ryan's men were behind twice in the opening four minutes but when Conor Johnson netted from a perfectly timed lay-off by the impressive Saul McCaughan, the Saffrons took a lead they only surrendered for a further three minutes before the end.

Despite that early setback, Derry stayed in touch throughout. The flawless free-taking of Brendan Douban, who finished with 0-11 from dead balls, helped Tom McLean's side restore parity by the interval.

Brendan Rogers was also causing bother as the sides went in paired at 1-7 to 0-10. Antrim reacted by making a triple substitution at half-time and it was Cushendall's Eoghan Campbell who stepped up in the early minutes of the second half, notching twice from play as his side went up through the gears.

Every time they scored, Derry found a way back into the game. Mark McGuigan hit the pick of their second half scores when he robbed John McGoldrick to fire over from the left wing.

The Slaughtneil man also had his side's best goal chance but with four between the sides and eight minutes to go, he miscued from 20 yards.

Cormac O'Doherty had a late 21-metre free stopped on the line as scores from Michael Dudley and Maol Connolly edged Antrim home.

Antrim: C Heyden; J McGoldrick, P Burke, T Burns; E Campbell (0-2), R McCambridge, M Connolly (0-1); D O'Hara, M Dudley (0-3); P McBride, J Connolly (0-3, 1 65), N McKenna (0-3); C Johnson (1-4, 3f), T Ó Ciarain, S McCaughan (0-2). Subs: S McBride for O'Hara (HT); D Murphy for McBride (HT); C Ross (0-1) for Ó Ciarain (HT); D Traynor for Murphy (60).

Derry: C Owens; S Doyle, J McCullagh, C Quinn; M McGrath, M Mulgrew, E McGill (0-1); T McCloskey (0-1), G Bradley; B Rogers (0-1), M McGuigan (0-1), D Foley (0-11, 10f, 1 65); J O'Dwyer, C O'Doherty (0-2), B Dougan. Subs: T Brady for Dougan (28); B Laverty for McCloskey (55);

Referee: James Clarke (Cavan)

Belfast Telegraph