ANTRIM hurlers have been drawn to play either Dublin or Wexford in the preliminary round of the All-Ireland senior Hurling Championship qualifiers on Saturday June 22.
The Saffrons will travel for the game against the losers of the Leinster SHC clash. Kevin Ryan’s side find themselves in the qualifiers after a 1-16 to 0-13 defeat by Laois in the Leinster SHC first round last month.
Antrim’s reward for a victory against the Dubs or Wexford will be a phase one qualifier against Carlow on Saturday June 29.
* Meanwhile Antrim’s county footballers lost 0-6 to 0-11 against Monaghan in the Ulster Football Championship at Casement Park on Sunday.
A misfiring Monaghan still proved far too strong for a poor Antrim side. Monaghan won despite hitting 16 wides and despite having Neil McAdam sent off with 30 minutes remaining.
At that stage, Monaghan led only 0-6 to 0-5 but they hit the next five scores to snuff out the Saffron challenge.
Conor McManus top-scored with four points for Monaghan while the Saffrons paid for a lack of attacking adventure.
After a Paddy Cunningham point levelled the contest a minute into the second half, Frank Dawson’s side failed to score again until Michael Pollock’s injury-time free.
In truth after losing their way in the second quarter, the departure of centre half-back McAdam, after his second yellow card, seemed to shake the Farney men out of their slumber.
The introduction of the strong-running Stephen Gollogly two minutes after McAdam’s dismissal boosted the Monaghan attack while Dessie Mone’s enterprise also helped Malachy O’Rourke’s side take complete control in the middle third of the field.
Monaghan went into the game as strong favourites after their successful Division 3 campaign.
The Saffrons had endured a dismal league, suffering relegation to Division 4, with the departure from the squad of men such as the McCann brothers Tomas and Michael, Tony Scullion and James Loughrey also reducing the Saffrons’ playing strength.
The match went to the pre-ordained script in the opening 20 minutes as Monaghan moved into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead.
McManus (two), Darren Hughes, Paul Finlay and Owen Duffy hit Monaghan’s early points as they were able to build easily from the back thanks to short uncontested kick-outs - by dint of Antrim’s defensive approach.
Granted, Antrim’s opening point in the ninth minute could - and probably should - have been a goal as their only real attacking threat Kevin Niblock ran straight through the Monaghan defence before blasting over the bar from 12 yards.