Leinster SHC: Saffrons struggle past 14-man London

May 11, 2014

Antrim are in the Leinster SHC quarter-finals.
©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.
Antrim 1-17
London 2-7

A wasteful Antrim side have secured their place in the Leinster SHC quarter-finals after overcoming 14-man London at Ballycastle.

Kevin Ryan's charges made it three wins on the trot in the round-robin series with this seven-point victory, but they made hard work of it and will need to sharpen up for their clash with Galway or Wexford after racking up 17 wides. Before then, they will have another outing against Laois who are favourites to join them in the provincial quarter-final.

Antrim held a slender 0-6 to 0-5 lead at the break after shooting 10 wides compared to just one for the losers. When top-scorer Paul Shiels - who accounted for 1-10 of their tally - netted early in the second half, the Saffrons put themselves in a strong position, but they were given a big scare when Martin Duggan and Kevin Walsh grabbed goals for London after they were reduced to 14 men when Noel McDonald saw red in the 47th minute.

The hosts were able to compose themselves, however, and closed out the game with late points from Shiels and Ciaran Clarke.

The Ulster side set out their stall by racing into a 0-5 to 0-2 inside the first 20 minutes with Shiels accounting for four of their points. The Dunloy man opened the scoring in the second minute before Eoin Kelly levelled from a '65' for a London side that was missing key players Stephen Lambert and Brian Regan.

Shiels tagged on two more points before Neil McManus made it 0-4 to 0-1, by which stage the Saffrons had already amassed five wides. Shiels fired over his fourth before Kelly replied with his and London's second point.

Shiels restored Antrim's four-point lead, but London finished the half the stronger with three unanswered points from Kelly, Darren Moore and Peter Phelan to trail by the minimum at the break.

The Saffrons looked set to go on to register their expected comfortable victory when Shiels scored a fine solo goal moments after the restart to bring his tally to 1-5. Kelly responded again before disaster struck for the Exiles when McDonald was sent off on a straight red card.

Ciaran Clarke extended London's lead to six, 1-9 to 0-6, but the 14-men hit back with their first goal from Duggan to leave just three points in it. As Antrim continued to rack up the wides, the Exiles pilfered a second major through Walsh with 15 minutes remaining to reduce the deficit to just two points, 2-6 to 1-11.

That set up a nervous finish for the home supporters, but Antrim's response was impressive as they outscored Tommy Harrell's men by 0-6 to 0-1 in the closing stages to prolong their involvement in the Leinster SHC.

Antrim - C O'Connell; O McFadden, C McKinley, A Graffin; S McCrory, N McAuley, N McManus (0-1); E Campbell (0-1), C Johnston; C Carson, D Hamill, C McCann; C Clarke (0-3, 1f), P Shiels (1-10, 0-4f, 0-2'65), PJ O'Connell. Subs: B McFall for S McCrory, C Johnson (0-1) for D Hamill, S McAfee (0-1) for C McCann, T McCann for C Carson, M Bradley for E Campbell.

London - J Barrett; C McAlinden, R Foy, C Hickey; E Cooney, PJ Rowe, S Fawley; D Moore (0-1), H Vaughan; P Phelan (0-1), E Kelly (0-5, 3f, 2'65), M Lynch; K Walsh (1-0), M Duggan (1-0), L Hands. Subs: N McDonald for C Hickey, K Kililea for L Hands, P Cocoman for P Phelan, D Egan for M Lynch.

Referee - J Keenan.

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