Goals prove the difference for Antrim

Laois 0-18 Antrim 2-18

Goals from half-forwards Karl Stewart and Neil McManus were the catalyst for Antrim's victory at O'Moore Park this afternoon as they withstood an onslaught from Laois to move to second spot in Division 2 of National Hurling League.

Stewart's goal propelled the visitors into a 1-3 to 0-0 lead after just five minutes, and when McManus added in second within four minutes of the second half, Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton's charges held a 2-14 to 0-8 advantage.

Antrim were certainly the more clinical force in the opening half, with Stewart and midfielder Paul Shields contributing the bulk of their first-half tally.

Although U-21 player Dayne Peacock took some good points from play for the hosts, Laois relied heavily on the contribution of free-taker James Young who slotted over four points from placed balls before the interval, as Antrim led by 1-13 to 0-7 at the break.

The Saffrons began the second half brightly, outscoring Laois by 1-2 to 0-1 inside five minutes of the restart following a Neil McManus goal, but Laois responded strongly.

The hosts sent over points from all angles with Peacock, Young, substitute Willie Hyland among the scorers to cut the gap to six points with as many minutes remaining.

Despite late goal efforts from both Tommy Fitzgerald and substitute Owen Houlihan for the hosts they could not penetrate a solid Antrim rearguard, as the Saffrons registered a six-point win.

Antrim Scorers: Karl Stewart 1-6 (5f), Paul Shields 0-7 (0-1f, 0-1sl), Neil McManus 1-1, Sean Delargy, Brendan Herron, Joey Scullion, PJ O'Connell 0-1 each.

Laois Scorers: James Young 0-9 (0-8f), Dayne Peacock 0-4, Willie Hyland 0-2, James Walsh, Tommy Fitzgerald, Owen Houlihan 0-1 each.

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