Cahill hails Antrim's battling qualities

Dinny Cahill was bursting with pride as he watched his Antrim side come from behind to beat Dublin and keep their All-Ireland dreams alive at Croke Park.

Cahill's men dug deep to overhaul the much-fancied Dubs, outpointing them by eight points to one over the closing 20 minutes of Saturday's qualifier clash.

Celebrating the 1-17 to 0-19 victory - Antrim's first ever Championship win over Dublin - Cahill said: "It's a great day for Antrim hurling and a great day for Ulster hurling. The game nearly went away from us at one stage in the second half. But we're used to going behind, we went behind in the Carlow game as well and we fought back.

"We've told them before every game that you have to fight to the bitter end, and that's what we did here.

"We learnt a lot from the Carlow game when we were eight points down and managed to win it. There is great battling in this team and we have worked hard enough to win games."

Antrim, 7/1 outsiders before the throw-in, grafted away and got the scores that mattered in the end, with midfielder Karl Stewart landing the match-winning score in injury-time.

Free-taker Neil McManus had a vital contribution with eight successful frees, while PJ O'Connell (1-1) also had a productive day and goalkeeper Chris O'Connell pulled off a fine save when Dublin substitute Paul Ryan went for a late goal.

"0-18 to 1-9 down, you know six points in hurling is very little and when it went into the last 10 minutes I felt there was only one team going to win it. And that was Antrim," added Cahill.

"I felt that we had everything going for us, we were driving forward, and the subs we brought on made a big contribution.

"We got a free at one stage, and the lads were tempted to go for a goal, but we insisted that they go for a point which reduced it down to four.

"That was a key thing as if Dublin had blocked that and come down the field for a point, it would have been demoralising for us. So in hindsight it was a wise decision."

The Saffrons will link up again tomorrow evening to begin preparations for their first All-Ireland quarter-final since 2004, a mouth-watering date with Cork next Sunday afternoon.

Cahill, who hails from Tipperary, knows all about Cork and the problems they will pose, especially with Jerry Wallace and Bob Thornhill in his backroom team.

Physical trainer Wallace worked with the Rebels in the recent past, helping them win three Munster and two All-Ireland titles, and selector Thornhill assisted in the management of a succession of Cork minor teams.

Plotting the downfall of the beaten Munster finalists will be 'a tough task', according to Cahill.

"They're a good outfit, they've proved that over the years," he said.

"There's a lot of All-Ireland medals down in Cork, and they'll be eager to get over the Waterford game. It will be a tough game for us, but we'll get it everything we've got."

Sunday's quarter-final between Antrim and Cork will start at 2pm at Croke Park, with the Galway v Tipperary tie (throw-in 4pm) completing the hurling double header.

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