Allianz Hurling League Roinn 1

Dublin 0-28 2-19 Antrim

Round 2
Parnell Park
Colm Lyons
Allianz HL D1: Dublin hold off late Antrim surge
Eoghan O'Donnell scores a second-half point for Dublin in their Allianz Hurling League Division 1 clash with Antrim. 

Allianz HL D1: Dublin hold off late Antrim surge

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B


By John Harrington at Parnell Park

A win for Dublin, but you can be sure manager Micheál Donoghue will have a few words for his players for making it much nervier than it needed to be.

They looked home and hosed when they led by 10 points after 65 minutes, but then allowed Antrim to hit them with an unanswered salvo of 1-4 from there to the finish that briefly threatened to turn the game on its head.

It was an unlikely climax to the game, because Dublin were the most effective side for most of it with 11 of their players getting on the scoreboard.

Eoghan O’Donnell had dominated their edge of the square, Conor Donohoe and Conor Burke impressed in the half-back line, Chris O’Leary produced an energetic midfield display, and Donal Burke conducted their attack with typical class.

The home team were the much quicker team to settle into a rhythm, scoring the first five points of the match, four of which came from play.

They were quality scores too, Donal Leavy slinging one over from the left, Cian Boland mirroring him from the right, and Chris O’Leary and Conor Donohoe banging over a couple of long-rangers.

Antrim weren’t helping themselves with some errant shooting as Conal Cunning’s first two pot-shots from placed balls went wide.

They final got off the mark after 11 minutes when Cunning pointed from play, and the score seemed to settle them.

They hit four unanswered points between the 12th and 20th minute from Michael Bradley, James McNaughton, Niall McKenna, and Cunning again to close the gap to just a single point, 0-6 to 0-5.

Dublin reasserted themselves in the final 15 minutes of the half though as their defence closed down on the space that Antrim had been profiting in, and their own forwards clicked into gear at the other end of the field.

Donal Burke, especially, came to life, arcing over two typically classy points to herald Dublin’s renaissance.

They went on from there to outscore the Saffrons by seven points to three to take to lead 0-15 to 0-8 by the break.

It looked like the home team would saunter to victory when they scored four points in a row early in the second half to stretch their advantage to 10 points, but Antrim refused to die.

Neil McManus signalled this defiance with a brilliant point from the wing which was quickly followed by another fine score from impressive substitute Niall O’Connor.

Antrim really needed a goal to properly ignite a comeback, and McManus came agonisingly close on two occasions to providing. First, Dublin goalkeeper Eddie Gibbons saved brilliantly from him, and then a minute later McManus rattled the crossbar with an absolute piledriver.

They finally got the goal they craved on 51 minutes when Conor Johnston intercepted a Conor Burke pass and then put through the jet-heeled Keelan Molloy who finished emphatically to the back of the net.

Dublin didn’t panic, hitting the next three points of the game, to move nine ahead again. They had stretched that advantage to 10 by the 65th minute, but then Antrim came with a late scoring burst that had Dublin supporters shouting for the final whistle.

Molloy struck his second goal of the game and then Paddy Burke and Neil McManus (f) quickly followed up with points to half the deficit.

Another McManus free was followed by a Molloy point to leave just a score between the teams with a minute of injury-time remaining.

Antrim had one last attack, but a ball meant to land on the edge of the square was overcooked and went out for a wide that finally heralded a win for Dublin that was harder than it should have been.

Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 0-10 (5f), Chris O’Leary 0-3, Liam Murphy, Fergal Whitely, Cian Boland, Donal Leavy, Conor Burke, Conor Donohoe all 0-2, Eoghan O’Donnell, Aidan Mellett, Darragh Power all 0-1.

Scorers for Antrim: Keelan Molloy 2-1, Conal Cunning 0-6 (2f, 1’65), Neil McManus 0-5 (2f), Paddy Burke 0-2, Michael Bradley, Niall McKenna, Seaan Elliott, James McNaughton and Niall O’Connor all 0-1.

DUBLIN: Eddie Gibbons; John Bellew, Eoghan O’Donnell, Paddy Doyle; Conor Dohohoe, Conor Burke, Daire Gray; Chris O’Leary, Aidan Mellett; Donal Leavy, Donal Burke; Cian Boland; Fergal Whitely, Liam Murphy, Paul Crummey. Subs:

ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Paddy Burke, Ryan McGarry, Phelim Duffin; Gerard Walsh, Eoghan Campbell, Conal Bohill; Michael Bradley, Keelan Molloy; Niall McKenna, James McNaughton, Neil McManus; Conal Cunning, Conor Johnston, Seaan Elliott. Subs:

Ref: Colm Lyons (Cork)