Allianz HL D1: Tipperary maintain good form
Allianz Hurling League Division One Group B
Tipperary 4-28 Antrim 2-16
By David Mohan at Corrigan Park
Tipperary marched into next week's Allianz Hurling League semi-final in impressive fashion as they maintained their 100 per cent record with a comprehensive win over Antrim at Corrigan Park.
Neither side had much riding on this game with Antrim already assured of Division One hurling for 2024 and Tipperary through to next week's semi-final, but it was Liam Cahill's Premier side that looked to have a bit more energy about them on the day as they romped to a victory with 11 different scorers on the board.
The game was effectively over by half-time when Tipp led by 14 points and although the hosts rallied after the break for a spell, they were never really threatening a comeback with the visitors able to keep the board ticking over.
Seaan Elliott nudged Antrim into an early lead, but Tipperary were quickly into their stride with 1-4 in response - the goal coming when Antrim coughed up cheap possession and Mark Kehoe fired home on four minutes.
The scores began to flow for Tipperary with nine different scorers in the opening period, while Antrim struggled to make much headway with any ball into the attack easily mopped up by the visiting defence.
Tipperary's second goal game on 20 minutes as Sean Ryan put Conor Bowe into to rattle the net and this made it 2-8 to 0-4.
Conal Cunning, Nigel Elliott and Michael Bradley were carrying the fight for Antrim, but Tipperary were much more fluid with Gearóid O'Connor, John McGrath and Sean Ryan all finding their range as well as wing-back Enda Heffernan, while goal number three arrived just before the break as Pauric Campion got in on the right and finished, helping Tipperary into a 3-13 to 0-8 half-time lead.
O'Connor frees extended the gap after the break before Antrim enjoyed a decent spell with two goals in four minutes, the first coming when Domhnall Nugent put Nigel Elliott in to rattle the net and then Cunning put Rian McMullan in to finish.
However, they were unable to sustain the pressure with the gap down to 10 as Tipp hit back with their fourth major on 49 minutes as the impressive Sean Ryan shrugged off a challenge to blast past Ryan Elliott.
That was that as John McGrath began to put on an exhibition of point-talking, while substitutes Johnny Ryan and John Campion got in on the act.
Antrim had a couple of decent phases with a few of their replacements, Paul Boyle, Seamus McAuley and Scott Walsh on target, but Tipperary could manage the game out as they powered over the line with yet another big score ahead of next week's semi-final against Limerick.
Scorers for Tipperary: Gearoid O'Connor 0-9 (7fs, 1 65), John McGrath 0-7 (1f), Sean Ryan 1-3, Mark Kehoe 1-0, Conor Bowe 1-0, Pauric Campion 1-0, Enda Heffernan 0-3, Alan Tynan 0-2, Joe Fogarty 0-2, Johnny Ryan 0-1, John Campion 0-1.
Scorers for Antrim: Conal Cunning 0-5 (3fs, 1 65), Nigel Elliott 1-2, Rian McMullan 1-1, Michael Bradley 0-3, Paul Boyle 0-2, Seaan Elliott 0-1, Scott Walsh 0-1, Seamus McAuley 0-1
Tipperary: Rhys Shelly; Eoghan Connolly, Michael Breen, Bryan O'Meara; Enda Heffernan, Ronan Maher, Pauric Campion; Joe Fogarty, Alan Tynan; Kian O'Kelly, Mark Kehoe, Gearoid O'Connor; Conor Bowe, John McGrath, Sean Ryan.
Subs: John Campion for Ronan Maher (26), Johnny Ryan for Bryan O'Meara (HT), Paddy Creedon for Kian O'Kelly (49), Dan McCormick for Alan Tynan (53), Cian O'Dwyer for Gearóid O'Connor (64).
Antrim: Ryan Elliott; Paddy Burke, Ryan McGarry, Phelim Duffin; Gerard Walsh, Eoghan Campbell, Niall O'Connor; Michael Bradley, James McNaughton; Nigel Elliott, Keelan Molloy, Domhnall Nugent; Conal Cunning, Rian McMullan, Seaan Elliott.
Subs: Scott Walsh for Niall O'Connor (HT), Paul Boyle for Seaan Elliott (HT), Caolan McKernan for James McNaughton (52), Seamus McAuley for Nigel Elliott (55), Rory McCloskey for Gerard Walsh (65).
Referee: Paud O'Dwyer (Carlow).