Dublin Minors on a mission, declares Johnny McGuirk

Dublin 2-22 Antrim 2-11: Manager Johnny McGuirk says Dublin are driven to redeem themselves as they progress to an All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final against Tipperary.

Dublin Minors on a mission, declares Johnny McGuirk

Beaten by an agonising two points by Kilkenny in the Leinster final, they bounced back with a big win over Antrim, in Cavan, on Saturday.

Free-taker Matthew Oliver scored 11 points,while Eoghan Conroy and Fergal Whitely scored crucial early goals.

But former Dublin star McGuirk says they have to improve, as they twice let Antrim back into the game.

“The lads felt they left that one behind against Kilkenny,” said McGuirk.

“At the same time, I thought we went well in training since. There was a good buzz and they do feel there’s something still there to be won. We’ve got to improve our performance on this game, if we’re going to go another step. Is there unfinished business? Without a doubt.”

Dublin were hot tips for a big win at Kingspan Breffni Park and opened up an early 1-6 to 0-1 lead.

But Antrim reduced the gap to just two points, after a superbly worked Conor Small goal.

Dublin led 2-11 to 1-8 at half-time, but were again reeled in, by a second Antrim goal midway through the second-half.

Christy McNaughton scored that one and Antrim were just five down, with 14 minutes to go.

Dublin finished strongly and blasted seven points without reply, in the closing stages, to secure the August 16 clash with Tipperary.

“It’s a huge challenge against Tipperary, there’s no doubting that,” said McGuirk. “We saw them in the Munster final and they were very impressive. They have big movement in their full-forward line. “But the task for us is to set the tempo high and keep it there, simple as that. If we don’t, they’ll punish us. You saw that against Antrim. We started off flying and then we dipped and they got a bit of momentum.

“At half-time, we were just hoping to regroup and keep the tempo up and move the ball around and, basically, stick to what we do well. We made a couple of switches, a couple of lads went in and steadied things. “I think we came off the pitch knowing we didn’t perform to our capabilities, but happy that we’re in an All-Ireland semi-final, at the same time.”

Antrim chief, Ciaran Kearney, lamented the loss of key players James McNaughton, Ciarán Leech and Shea Hunter, through injury. He said his Ulster champions let themselves down with basic errors that Dublin punished. “We made fundamental errors, that was the difference,” said Kearney.

“The scores Dublin got were from fundamental errors that we’d made. You can’t expect to do that and win games.”

Scorers for Dublin:

M Oliver (0-11, 10 frees); F Whitely (1-2); E Conroy (1-0); M Maguire (0-3); C Sammon (0-2); D Gray, E Foley, A Considine, G King (0-1 each).

Scorers for Antrim:

Christy McNaughton (1-6, 6 frees); C Small (1-0); K Malloy (0-2); D McLaughlin, R McKee, C Doherty Cunning (0-1 each).

Dublin:

E Skelly; C Hendricken, D Butler, C Ryan; E Foley, P Smyth, C O’Sullivan; M Oliver, C Sammon; F Whitely, C Dowling, D Gray; A Considine, E Conroy, M Maguire.

Subs:

G King for O’Sullivan (40), D Ryan for Smyth (44), J McGuirk for Dowling (45), C Currie for Conroy (53), C Burke for Considine (59).

Antrim:

B Connor; O McKenna, D Carey, C Carson; S Duffin, G Walsh, J Maskey; C McMullan, K Malloy; C Doherty Cunning, D McLaughlin, C McNaughton; C Small, D McShane, R McKee.

Subs:

J Daniels for McShane (44), C Blair for McKenna (44), A Burke for McLaughlin (52), D McKernan for Duffin (68), CJ McKenna for McKee (68).

Referee:

J Keane (Galway).

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