Allianz National Hurling League – Division 1B
Antrim 0-17 Limerick 3-22
Antrim’s hopes of making it to the Division 1B final were blown away at Casement Park on Sunday when they were comprehensively beaten by an excellent Limerick team by 3-22 to 0-17 on a day when too many of the Saffrons big names failed to perform.
It looked good early on for Antrim as they played some excellent hurling to open up a 0-4 to 0-2 lead with a point apiece from Michael Herron and Neil McManus and two from Shane McNaughton.
However once they found their feet the visitors began to get on top and they hit 1-6 without reply the goal coming from a Shane Dowling 20 metre free which was controversially awarded by referee Alan Kelly when it appeared that Limerick full-forward Niall Moran had overcarried the ball.
Soon afterwards Kelly again incurred the wrath of the Casement Park crowd when he awarded another free, and booked Antrim full-back Cormac Donnelly, despite the fact that it appeared to everyone present that Donnelly was being hauled down by Limerick full-forward Niall Moran.
Protests by the Antrim players brought the free even closer and again Dowling found the net as he fired a bullet like drive high past the Antrim wall of defenders to help his side to a 2-12 to 0-8 lead at half-time.
Three half-time changes which saw Joey Scullion, Barney McAuley and Barry McFall introduced lifted things briefly and top scorer Shane McNaughton cut the gap with a well taken point, but the visitors were soon back in control and it took some excellent work from team captain DD Quinn in the Antrim goals to prevent the gap getting even bigger.
Limerick added a third goal through second-half substitute Tobin when he was put clear in from of goal by full-forward Naill Moran and though Antrim did battle on bravely they could make no real inroads to the Limerick lead.
The day was probably summed up in the final minute when Antrim were awarded a twenty-metre free and Neil McManus stepped up to blast for goal, only to miss his lift and then send his ground shot trundling wide of the posts. It just wan’t Antrim’s day.
Limerick’s win sees them earn place in the Division 1B final against Clare next weekend, the winner of which will go forward to meet Kilkenny in the Division 1 semi-final two weeks later.
Antrim: DD Quinn, Aaron Graffin, Cormac Donnelly, Kieran McGourty, Neil McAuley, Neil McManus, Michael Gettens, Karl Stewart, Paul Shiels, Simon McCrory, Michael Herron, Eddie McCloskey, PJ O’Connell Conor Carson, Shane McNaughton.
Subs – Joey Scullion for Conor Carson; Barney McAuley for for Paul Shiels; Barry McFall for Simon McCrory; John Kerr for Michael Gettins.
Limerick: Nickie Quaid; Stephen Walsh, Richie Mc Carthy, Tom Condon; Wayne McNamara, Donal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony; Paul Browne, James Ryan; Shane Dowling, David Breen, Conor Allis; Graeme Mulcahy, Niall Moran, Tommy Quaid.