All Ireland Under 21 Hurling Chamionship
Dublin 3-23 Antrim 0-6
Antrim Under 21s were comprehensively outplayed by a slick moving Dublin team when they lost by 26 points to the Leinster Champions in Saturday’s All Ireland Under 21 Hurling semi-final at Pairc Esler, Newry.
In fairness to the Antrim players they were always on a hiding to nothing against a well prepared Dublin team who have training and playing challenge games since February, and have three championship matches under their belt. Antrim on the other hand were ill prepared with only one serious game in the Ulster final against Armagh plus a few poorly attended training sessions.
The Dubs got off to a perfect start, with 6’4’’ centre-forward Mark Schutte crashed through for a goal in the first minute.
After 16 minutes, the the Leinster champions were 1-5 to 0-2 to the good, with Martin Quilty dominant in defence and the roving Kevin O’Loughlin causing trouble up front. Antrim were starved of possession by a sharper Dublin who led 1-9 to 0-3 at half-time.
Dublin made a similar start to the second-half when Schutte created a second goal after only 20 seconds of the second half, setting up Eamon Dillon for a shot well saved by Antirm keeper Eoin Gillan but flicked to the net by Sean McGrath.
The goal crushed any hope of a comeback as Dublin reeled off 10 points without reply before Antrim debutant Paddy McNaughton hit his team’s first score of teh second-half in the 49th minute.
Michael Armstrong and Kevin McKiernan fought hard for Antrim but the Dubs could afford to take off senior star Liam Rushe long before the finish as they cruised to another big day out.
If this county is serious about advancing hurling in the county something needs to be done about the preparation of our under-age teams. Following thrashings by Dublin on both Minor and U21 this season has become an embarrassment for the players involved. If Antrim has any chance of competing against the southern powers then they must be at least as well prepared as their opponents.
SCORERS -- Dublin: K O’Loughlin 0-7 (4f, 1 sl), M Schutte 1-3, S McGrath 1-1, B Quinn 1-0, D Plunkett, N McMorrow 0-3 each, E Dillon 0-2, D Curran, C Gough, T Connolly, O O Maoileidigh 0-1 each. Antrim: C McCann 0-3f, J Black, M Devlin, P McNaughton 0-1 each.
DUBLIN -- G McManus; B O’Carroll, D Kelly, J Doughan; D Curran, L Rushe, M Quilty; C Gough, D Sutcliffe; D Plunkett, M Schutte, N McMorrow; K O’Loughlin, S McGrath, E Dillon. Subs: F Clabby for O’Carroll (42), T Connolly for O’Loughlin (inj (45), S O’Connor for Sutcliffe (48), O O Maoileidigh for McGrath (49), B Quinn for Rushe (53).
ANTRIM -- E Gillan; T McAllister, K McKiernan, C O’Loughlin; P McKeague, M Armstrong, N Cunningham, C Laverty, P McNaughton; J Black, M Devlin, T McCloskey; D McLean, C McCann, S Smyth. Subs: C Gillan for M Devlin (33), A Downey for McKeague (46), B Curran for Laverty (56).
Ref -- F Smyth (Meath).