Allianz HL D1: Antrim and Wexford share the spoils after thriller


Allianz Hurling League Division 1B

ANTRIM 1-21 WEXFORD 2-18

From David Mohan at Corrigan Park

KEELAN Molloy pointed 12 minutes into time added on to secure a draw for Antrim in a thrilling clash with Wexford at a damp Corrigan Park this afternoon.

It appeared that Wexford were well on course for victory when two early goals put them in the driving seat, but Antrim battled back superbly and were full value for the draw in a game that really could have gone either way in the second half.

This was a game full of incident with Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald sent to the stands in the first half, while both teams would finish with 14 as Matthew O'Hanlon was shown red on 46 minutes and Antrim's Neil McManus picking up a second yellow late on.

However, in a frantic finish, neither side could land the knockout blow and when Molloy split the posts with a last-gasp score, it sealed a share of the spoils that was probably deserved after an intense battle.

After an early exchange of points, Wexford were in for a third minute goal as Lee Chin came out a ruck, put Liam Og McGovern through who popped to the unmarked Conor McDonald to fire low to the net.

After another exchange of scores, James McNaughton landed a long free, but Antrim were undone yet again on nine minutes as Kevin Foley's shot from deep dropped and broke to Paul Morris who doubled it to the net.

It was a dream start for Wexford who led 2-4 to 0-4 at the water break, but it came at a cost as they lost Jack O'Connor to injury.

Antrim gradually began to grow into the game and started winning the breaks around the middle as the sides went scores for score, enjoying a decent spell with three-in-a-row as Connor Johnston took a point when a goal may have been on offer, while McNaughton landed a free and won the subsequent poc-out to add another and bring the gap to three.

Diarmuid O'Keeffe of Wexford and Neil McManus of Antrim shake hands following the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 4 match between Antrim and Wexford at Corrigan Park in Belfast. 
Diarmuid O'Keeffe of Wexford and Neil McManus of Antrim shake hands following the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 4 match between Antrim and Wexford at Corrigan Park in Belfast. 

Antrim then had what appeared a decent shout for a penalty waved away as another stray poc-out from Mark Fanning was pounced on by Neil McManus who appeared to have been trailed back by Liam Ryan, but play was waved on.

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald was then sent to the stand for an incident along the sideline, but his team finished the half well with two points from Chin - one free - to leave them 2-9 to 0-10 ahead at the break.

McDonald punished an Antrim mistake with a point to start the second period, but Keelan Molloy replied immediately as Antrim then began to eat into the gap, hitting six of the next seven points with Cunning on target with five frees and McNaughton adding on from play, whilst Wexford's sole score game from a long Mark Fanning free.

The Slaneysiders were reduced to 14 on 46 minutes when Matthew O'Hanlon was shown red for a tangle with McManus who picked up his first yellow in the process as the sides were level at the water break.

McManus then gave Antrim their first lead, but a Lee Chin free and point from substitute Joe O'Connor edged Wexford back in front.

Ciaran Clarke pointed to level again before Wexford seemed to break for home with scores from Paul Morris and Chin.

However, Antrim found the reply as on 67 minutes, Clarke did well to force a turnover with McManus showing excellent vision to gather and pop to Shea Shannon who buried low to the net.

Chin squared it again as the game entered a lengthy period of stoppage time with McManus picking up his second yellow for a chop down to leave both teams with 14 players, but it was very much all to play for with McNaughton edging Antrim ahead after Keelan Molloy shot at goal was brilliantly stopped and after Chin levelled, it seemed Wexford had hit the decisive point when McDonald sent Liam Og McGovern clear to pop over

However, they couldn't engineer the insurance point as Antrim mustered a late charge with Shannon playing an excellent ball to Molloy out on the right to secure share of the spoils.

Antrim scorers: Conal Cunning 0-7 (0-6 frees, 0-1 65), James McNaughton 0-6, (0-3 frees), Keelan Molloy 0-5, Shea Shannon 1-0, Conor Johnston 0-1 Neil McManus 0-1, Ciaran Clarke 0-1

Wexford scorers: Lee Chin 1-9 (0-8 frees), Conor McDonald 1-1, Liam Og McGovern 0-2, Simon Donohoe 0-1, Aidan Nolan 0-1, Paul Morris 0-1, Rory O'Connor 0-1, Joe O'Connor 0-1, Mark Fanning 0-1 (free).

ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Damon McMullan, Gerard Walsh, Stephen Rooney; Eoghan Campbell, Paddy Burke, Joe Maskey; James McNaughton, Keelan Molloy; Niall McKenna, Eoin O'Neill, Conor Johnston; Conal Cunning, Neil McManus, Dan McCloskey. Subs: Aodhán O'Brien for Joe Maskey (25), Ciaran Clarke for Dan McCloskey (49), Shea Shannon for Eoin O'Neill (63), Conal Bohill for Conor Johnston (70), Phelin Duffin for Stephen Rooney (70+5).

WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Shane Reck, Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe; Connal Flood, Matthew O'Hanlon, Shaun Murphy; Diarmuid O'Keefe, Liam Og McGovern; Aidan Nolan, Conor McDonald, Paul Morris; Rory O'Connor Lee Chin, Kevin Foley. Subs: Jack O'Connor for Rory O'Connor (13), Joe O'Connor for Gavin Bailey (54), Conor Hearne for Aidan Nolan (63), Joe O'Connor for Aidan Nolan (63), Conor Firman for Shaun Murphy (65), Mikie Dwyer for Paul Morris (65)

Conor Firman, Connal Flood, Conor Hearne, Rory O'Connor, Lee Chin, Jack O'Connor, Harry Kehoe, Ross Donohoe, Richie Lawlor

REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)