Antrim manager Darren Gleeson.
Antrim manager Darren Gleeson.

Joe McDonagh Cup: Antrim defeat Down

Joe McDonagh Cup

Antrim 6-22 Down 3-16

By David Mohan at Ballycran

A ruthless attacking display from Antrim saw them make it two wins from two in the Joe McDonagh Cup as they took a 15-point win and the bragging rights over Ulster rivals Down in Ballycran.

Darren Gleeson's Conal Cunning top-scored with 10 points, while Seaan Elliott and Ciaran Clarke bagged two goals apiece to put the Saffrons out of sight before a Down rally saw them narrow the gap a little, but Antrim finished well to put them in pole position in the group.

Antrim looked in the mood from the off and wasted no time in putting their stamp on the game with Joe Maskey racing through from the throw-in and popping to Ciaran Clarke who drilled to the net.

A Seaan Elliott point from a sideline followed and while Down steadied a little with Marc Fisher getting them off the mark, Antrim looked well in control and their second goal arrived on 13 minutes as Niall O'Connor send a long ball downfield that was broken down to Conal Cunning and he offloaded to his Dunloy clubmate Elliott who sidestepped and galloped in to score.

That made it 2-4 to 0-2 and Antrim began to widen the gap with Cunning knocking over the frees, while Conor McCann and Joe Maskey added from play before Gerard Walsh pointed a missile of a free from deep in his own half.

Down were getting into decent positions, but their shooting was failing them as little, although a trio of Daithi Sands points kept the board ticking over, yet it was Antrim 2-13 to 0-8 to the good at the break.

The visitors continued to pile on the misery early in the second period as after a couple of early points, Seaan Elliott was tripped when making a charge at goal by John Mcmanus who was black-carded for preventing a goalscoring opportunity and Ciaran Clarke rammed the penalty home.

After an exchange of points, Down had their first goal when Daithi Sands whipped home after Eoghan Sands' shot was saved, but Antrim wiped this out immediately with Clarke putting Elliott through to do the honours.

The game seemed to be petering out with Antrim 17 points up, but Down staged a mini-revival with substitute Chris Egan batting to the net after Daithi Sands had a shot saved and just seconds later, Eoghan Sands drilled home.

However, Antrim would finish well and Conor Johnston scored goal number five when rounding Stephen Keith and Domhnall Nugent batted home late to put a gloss on the scorebaord with Antrim worthy winners to make it two wins from two in the competition.

Scorers for Antrim: C Cunning 0-10 (8 frees), C Clarke 2-1 (1-0 pen), S Elliott 2-1 (0-1 sideline), C Johnston 1-2, D Nugent 1-2, C McCann 0-2, J Maskey 0-1, G Walsh 0-1 (free), P Burke 0-1, D McKernan 0-1.

Scorers for Down: D Sands 1-4, C Egan 1-2, E Sands 1-0, P Sheehan 0-2 frees, P Og McCrickard 0-2, P Doran 0-2, M Conlon 0-1, G Hughes 0-1, M Fisher 0-1, O McManus 0-1 (free)

ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Gerard Walsh, Niall O'Connor; Paddy Burke, Eoghan Campbell, Ryan McGarry; Joe Maskey, James McNaughton; Seaan Elliott, Domhnall Nugent, Conor McCann; Conal Cunning, Ciaran Clarke, Conor Johnston

Subs: Neil McManus for J McNaughton (43), Eoin O'Neill for C McCann (48), Matthew Donnelly for N O'Connor (51), Daniel McKernan for J Maskey (58), Conal Bohill for S Elliott (69).

DOWN: Stephen Keith; Michael Hughes, John McManus, Tom Murray; Matt Conlon, Conor Woods, Caolan Taggart; Pearse Og McCrickard, Liam Savage; Marc Fisher, Paul Sheehan, Jordan Doran; Daithi Sands, Darragh Mallon, Eoghan Sands

Subs: Gerard Hughes for J Doran (40), Chris Egan for P Sheehan (43), Declan McCartney for D Mallon (53), Padraig Doran for M Fisher (58), Oisin McManus for P Og McCrickard (60).

REFEREE: John Keenan (Wicklow).