Antrim hurlers grab season’s first league points

CARLOW 0-13 ANTRIM 3-14

A lightning start laid the foundations for Antrim’s 3-14 to 0-13 Allianz Hurling League victory over Carlow at Dr Cullen Park.

Saffrons skipper Neil McManus shot a fine fourth-minute goal to open the scoring and Shane McNaughton’s flicked 24th-minute goal helped the wind-assisted visitors to a 2-12 to 0-4 half-time lead.

Carlow reeled off six successive second half points, five from the hurl of Marty Kavanagh, but an injury-time goal from Stephen Beatty underscored the win for Kevin Ryan’s charges.

Ryan had been in charge of the Carlow hurlers for the previous four years, and his inside knowledge of the Barrowsiders paid dividends particularly in the opening 35 minutes.

Both of these sides were chasing their first league points of 2013 after a run of three defeats each in Division 1B. Antrim were hugely impressive early on as they streaked into a 1-7 to 0-0 lead after just 12 minutes.

Carlow finally got their attack going two minutes later, with Shane Kavanagh hitting their first point.

But, with the backing of the elements, the Saffrons were determined to rack up a substantial buffer by the break and they did just that with McNaughton nicking the ball past goalkeeper Nicky Roberts for his side’s second major.

Carlow boss John Meyler steadied the ship at half-time and with the wind now behind them, the hosts made immediate improvements in the second period.

Young free-taker ‘Mouse’ Kavanagh landed some fine scores. The St. Mullins clubman ended with 0-08 (0-07f) in all, with Antrim struggling to add to their first half tally.

There were 59 minutes gone when McManus fired over their 13th point of the afternoon. Those brace of first half goals looked decisive as Carlow whittled the lead down to 2-14 to 0-13 with three minutes remaining.

However, wing forward Beatty finished an Antrim raid over the goal-line in added time to push the winning margin out to 10 points.

CARLOW: N Roberts; D English, E Nolan, D Shaw; A Corcoran, R Coady, J O’Hara; M Brennan, E Coady (0-2), J Kavanagh, S Kavanagh (0-3, 0-3f), M Kavanagh (0-8, 0-7f); C Doyle, JM Nolan, A Gaul.

Subs used: D Roberts for Nolan (34 mins), P Coady for Gaul (47), C Wall for Doyle (65).

ANTRIM: R McGarry; C McKinley, A Graffin, M McFadden; S McCrory (0-1), N McAuley (0-1), P Shiels; M Donnelly, J McGreevy (0-2); S Beatty (1-0), N McManus (1-6, 0-5f), E McCloskey (0-3); D McClean, C Carson, S McNaughton (1-1).

Subs used: T McCloskey for McNaughton (31 mins), K McKernan for McClean (46), KB McShane for Donnelly (53), D Hamill for E McCloskey (67).

* In GAA football Sunday’s Division Three match between Antrim and Meath was postponed because of heavy snow and freezing conditions in Belfast.