Leinster SHC: Galway finish strongly

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship

Galway 2-25 Antrim 1-14

By David Mohan at Corrigan Park

A red card for Antrim’s Ryan McGarry three minutes into the second half at a sunny Corrigan Park proved the turning point as Galway got back to winning ways in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship.

At that stage, the Saffrons held a one-point advantage they took into the half and one in which they were full value for, but the numerical disadvantage proved a blow they couldn’t recover from as the Tribesmen put their defeat to Wexford a fortnight ago behind them.

That loss seemed to be hanging over them in Belfast as they failed to fire in the opening half, but then much of that was down to Antrim’s efforts.

Both sides looked jittery from the off but there was a sense Galway were beginning to settle with Conor Cooney, Evan Niland and Conor Whelan all on target as they led 0-4 to 0-2 before they rattled the net on 10 minutes as Seán Linnane played a great ball into the stride of Gavin Lee who buried.

Cooney added a point, but Antrim, who were now settling themselves, began to sense all was not right with the visitors and began to get on top around the middle with Keelan Molloy and James McNaughton finding their range and then Michael Bradley cracking over the equaliser..

Padraic Mannion ended a barren 10 minutes for the Tribesmen, but Antrim were beginning to really fancy it and after McNaughton levelled from a free, they got the goal they deserved 29 minutes in as late replacement Rian McMullan played in Conal Bohill who found the corner of the net.

Galway temporarily came to life with scores from Niland and Whelan – the second after Ryan Elliott had made a vital interception – but Antrim, who were guilty of eight wides and five shots short in thew opening period, extended the gap with Gerard Walsh landing a long free and then clipping over a sideline.

They almost had another goal, as a McNaughton free dropped and Darach Fahy fumbled and was lucky to rescue the ball in the nick of time despite Antrim protests a green flag should have been raised, but late scores through Tom Monaghan and Niland narrowed the gap to one as Antrim led 1-11 to 1-10.

It was all set up for a storming second half, but then came the red card for McGarry for a challenge on Whelan, and Niland pointed the free to level.

Initially, Antrim seemed to shrug it off as Keelan Molloy burst in on goal but was hooked at the vital moment with his subsequent pull back flashing away from danger, but Galway would then grab the lead through Linnane and keep it with Cooney’s goal from a penalty minutes later giving the visitors a little breathing space.

With a man light, Antrim lacked options in attack as Galway gradually pulled away with a decent spread of scorers as Antrim just had three James McNaughton points to show for their efforts.

Galway seemed to be keen on further goals but couldn’t manage it, although Connor Whelan, Daithí Burke and the returning Jonathan Glynn clipped over some fine points with Donal O’Shea having the final word.

Scorers for Galway: C Cooney 1-6 (1-0 pen, 3fs, 0-1 ), E Niland 0-5 (3fs), C Whelan 0-3, G Lee 1-0, S Linnane 0-2, D O’Shea 0-2, David Burke 0-1, Daithí Burke 0-1, P Mannion 0-1, C Fahy 0-1, T Monaghan 0-1, J Cooney 0-1, J Glynn 0-1

Scorers for Antrim: J McNaughton 0-8 (4fs), K Molloy 0-3, C Bohill 1-0, G Walsh 0-2 (1f, 1sl), M Bradley 0-1

Galway: Darach Fahy; Jack Grealish, Daithí Buurke, Fintan Burke; Seán Linnane, Padraic Mannion, Cianan Fahy; David Burke, Ronan Glennon; Gavin Lee, Tom Monaghan, Joseph Cooney; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Evan Niland.

Subs: Declan McLoughlin for E Niland (52), Adrian Tuohey for R Glennon (55), Jamie Ryan for J Cooney (58), Donal O’Shea for David Burke (58), Jason Flynn for G Lee (66)

Blood subs: Declan McLoughlin for C Whelan (38-42), Jonathan Glynn for J Ryan (61-FT).

Antrim: Ryan Elliott; Conor Boyd, Niall O’Connor, Paddy Burke; Gerard Walsh, Ryan McGary, Conal Bohill; Eoghan Campbell, Keelan Molloy; Nigel Elliott, Michael Bradley, Niall McKenna; Rian McMullan, Seaan Elliott, James McNaughton.

Subs: Scott Walsh for E Campbell (24), Rory McCloskey for R McMullan (48), Conor McCann for C Bohill (51), Fred McCurry for M Bradley (55), Paul Boyle for N McKenna (66).

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).