Ulster U21HC final: Antrim ease past Derry

July 24, 2013

Antrim's Chris McGuinness out in front of Derry's Ciaran Lynch during the Ulster U21HC final at Casement Park ©INPHO/Presseye/Russell Pritchard
Antrim 6-22
Derry 0-6

Antrim left Derry for dead as the Saffrons picked up their 29th Bord Gais Ulster Under 21 Hurling Championship, and a fifth provincial success in a row at Casement Park tonight.

All bar two points of the hosts tally came from open play, as Derry were left wondering where it all went wrong and Antrim advanced to an All-Ireland semi-final date with Wexford on August 24th.

Slaneysiders boss JJ Doyle and his selectors were in attendance for this game, with plenty to ponder ahead of that last four clash.

Antrim could have so easily thrown this game away, level on three occasions inside the opening quarter, and with eight wides hit in the opening eight minutes, it wasn't all to plan early on for Kevin Ryan's side.

Derry worked hard with Dominic Mullan, Niall Ferris and captain Tiernan McCloskey contributing early scores, but once Stephen McAfee put Antrim 0-4 to 0-3 ahead after 17 minutes, the Saffrons wouldn't trail this match.

Indeed they never trailed over the 60 minutes, but were matched score for score early on by a determined Oak Leaf side.

The loss of DCU student Ciaran Johnson to injury earlier in the week opened a window for Shane Dooey to start this contest, and the Dunloy Cuchulainns clubman was tremendous throughout.

Antrim had leaders all over the pitch, and from 0-3-apiece after 16 minutes, entered the break with a 3-11 to 0-3 lead, after a powerful finish to the opening half.

The Saffrons scoring 3-8 without reply, with McGreevey, McAfee, Chris McGuinness, McKernan and Ciaran Clarke on target for scores.

All of Antrim's scores during this spell came from open play, with McAfee netting their first goal in the 26th minute.

Derry goalkeeper Ciaran O'Kane failing to stop a powerful shot from the Ballycastle clubman as Antrim moved 1-8 to 0-3 in front.

50 seconds later this lead was extended to 11 points, as Clarke got through for the first of his two goals.

The second came in injury-time, as Antrim took a 17-point interval lead, and Derry were left wondering where it all went wrong.

Heavy rain prevailed at the start of the second half, and although McCloskey claimed a vital score for Derry inside two minutes of the restart, it was hard to stop the Saffron deludge.

Despite the efforts of the likes of substitutes Declan Breen and Joe Loughlin, along with goalkeeper Ciaran O'Kane, Derry couldn't gain a foothold.

O'Kane who had a busy evening, was hugely instrumental in keeping the Oak Leafers from further embarassment, pulling off a string of fine saves in the second half.

The Kevin Lynch's clubman denied Conor Burke and back-to-back title winning Antrim captain Conor McCann of second half goals.

But Antrim were hugely hungry for scores, with McAfee bagging two goals in the closing 30 minutes, along with Daniel McKernan bringing his tally to 1-7 by the close of play.

Antrim's brilliance in this match was undermined by the statistic that all bar two points of their tally game from open play.

After the game Antrim captain Jackson McGreevy accepted the cup, as he and his Saffron team mates now look forward to an All-Ireland semi-final date with Wexford on August 24th.

ANTRIM: G Dixon; T Ó Ciarain, M Donnelly, T Coyle; S Dooey, P McNaughton, D Kearney; J McGreevy (0-4), E Campbell; S McAfee (3-1), S Beatty (0-1), C McGuinness (0-2); D McKernan (1-7), C McCann (0-3, 2f), C Clarke (2-1). Subs: N McKenna (0-2) for McGuinness (HT); M Bradley (0-1) for Clarke (HT); C Morgan for Donnelly (HT); C Burke for Beatty (39); M Dudley for McGreevy (39).

DERRY: C O'Kane; N McCallion, C McGurk, E Crossan; C Lynch, B McGilligan, R Farren; E Cassidy, L Murphy; B Rodgers (0-1), D Mullan (0-1), T McCloskey (0-2, 1f, 1 65); T Henry, A Armstrong, N Ferris (0-2). Subs: D McAlary for Armstrong (42); C Devine for McCallion (43); K McIntyre for Crossan (48); D Breen for Henry (52); J Loughlin for Lynch (52).

REFEREE: Paul Braniff (Down)

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