Cahill demands more from Antrim

ANTRIM’S hurlers safely secured a place in the next phase of qualifiers with an eight-point win over Carlow at Casement Park on Saturday, but manager Dinny Cahill felt the level of performance wouldn’t be enough to get past the next round.

Antrim scored 0-23 over the 70 minutes and fully deserved their victory but the opposition on July 9 will be in a different league. In between they face Armagh in the Ulster final and Cahill will use that game to give more players game time in preparation for a crack at one of the bigger fish.

“The first half I wouldn’t have been too pleased with but to go in on level terms with the way we played was okay and we showed in the second half that we could open up and play better hurling,” said the Tipp native.

“We had an advantage over Carlow in that they didn’t have a game last week. We had a game against Westmeath and that sharpness showed in the second half. It’s our intention to get more players out in the Ulster final and have a look at them.

“There’s places where we feel we could settle our squad. Karl McKeegan is coming out of injury and he’s going to be pushing and there’s lots of payers to come into the squad to make it stronger. We’re hoping that the 18 or 20 players we’re using are going to get up to that level.”

Although the Saffrons were comfortable winners, they didn’t have it their own way. Early wides from the visitors gave the 0-4 to 0-1 scoreline to Antrim after nine minutes a skewed look, while Craig Doyle also missed a great chance for goal that was pushed wide.

When Carlow finally got their sights adjusted on the Casement Park posts, they drew level at 0-5 apeice after 18 minutes, Shane Kavanagh converting a 65 and Doyle, Ruairi Dunbar and Daryl Roberts all raising flags.

Mark Brennan was next on the Carlow scoresheet when gifted an opportunity from a poor puckout The Antrim half-back line was proving a tough obstacle for Carlow with Micko Herron in particular clearing a lot of ball for the Saffrons.

Carlow at this stage looked the hungrier team and went two ahead with a fine score from Dunbar.

Darren Hamill set up Kevin Molloy for a fine score with Karl Stewart finding room to slot over from range to put Antrim ahead by one, 0-9 to 0-8. In first half injury time Dunbar converted a free to tie the scores.

The third quarter belonged to Antrim with the excellent McManus accurate from frees. Kavanagh’s second 65 of the game provided a bit of respite but impressive Antrim full-forward Hamill immediately cancelled out the Carlow score.

The visitors dragged themselves back into the game when Roberts set up Paudie Kehoe for the game’s only goal but Antrim stepped up a gear to see out the game in the closing stages, with two Kehoe frees the sum total of Carlow’s efforts.

Scorers for Antrim: N McManus 0-9 (7fs), D Hamill 0-3, N McAuley, E McCloskey, K Stewart, P Shiels 0-2 each, K Molloy, C McCann, T McCann 0-1.

Scorers for Carlow: R Dunbar 0-5 (4fs), P Kehoe 1-2, S Kavanagh 0-2 (65s), C Doyle, D Roberts, M Brennan 0-1 each.

Subs for Antrim: B McFall for S McCrory, T McCann for K Molloy, C McFall for D Hamill.

Subs for Carlow: J Doyle for R Dunbar, P Coady for E Nolan.

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath).

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