Second-half collapse scuppers Saffrons hopes

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship

Wexford 3-16 Antrim 1-11

At half time of Sunday’s Leinster quarter-final at Wexford Park Antrim appeared to be on course for their biggest championship win since beating Offaly back in 1989.

Having played into a really strong wind they trailed the home side by just two points and had it not been for a spot of misfortune, when full-forward Darren Hamill hit the post, they could well have been leading.

However the old adage that the wind on its own will not get you the scores proved correct once again as Antrim failed to perform in the second-half and Wexford cruised through to a semi-final meeting with Kilkenny.

Playing into a strong wind in the opening half Antrim appeared nervous in the early stages and the home side pulled two points clear as PJ Nolan and Stephen Banville found the target. Wexford looked assured but when Karl Stewart got Antrim on the scoreboard in the fourth minute the Antrim confidence began to grow.

Playing low balls into the full-forward line the Saffrons began to trouble the home defence and when corner-forward Conor McCann fired the ball to the net in the fifth minute the travelling fans were in full cry. The joy was short lived however as a ball that should have been easily cleared ended up in a Wexford free, which full-forward Eanna Martin powered to the net to restore his team’s lead.

The remainder of the half was evenly contested as Antrim matched the home side score for score, and when they went in at the break just two in arrears (1-10 to 1-08) hopes were high for a shock win.

The turnaround in fortunes in the second-half had to be seen to be believed as the confidence appeared to drain right out of Antrim. They had a couple of early chances to draw level but Neil McManus, who had hit four excellent points from frees in the first-half, was off target.

Wexford slowly began to get on top and picked off some fine scores before corner-forward Rory Jacob delivered a real killer blow with a well taken goal in the forty-eighth minute. The Antrim forward line simply could not get their hands on the ball as the Wexford defence bossed matters under the high ball and three points was all they could muster in a desperately disappointing second-half.

Wexford’s confidence grew as the game progressed and David Redmond grabbed their third goal near the end to seal an emphatic win.

ANTRIM: 16 S Hawes; 2 C McGuinness, 3 C Donnelly, 4 K Molloy; 5 A Graffin, 6 M Herron, 7 C Herron; 8 P Shiels (0-2), 9 B McFall; 10 S McCrory, 11 K Stewart (0-3), 12 N McManus (0-5, four frees); 13 C MacCanna (1-0), 14 D Hammil (0-1), 15 E McCloskey (capt). Subs: M Armstrong for C Herron (55 mins), J Black for B McFall (60 mins), T McCann for McCloskey (64 mins), M Donnelly for McCrory (68 mins).

Referee: C McAllister (Cork)