Antrim retain Ulster crown

Antrim 2-22 Down 1-18

Antrim 2-22 Down 1-18

Antrim have retained their Guinness Ulster SHC crown after goals from substitute Karl Stewart and captain Jim Connolly helped them edge past Down for the second year running.

Dinny Cahill's men, who started with Kieran Kelly (hamstring) and Gavin Bell (back) despite injury concerns, pocketed the first silverware of the championship season, and they got off to the ideal start at Casement Park, pointing five times in the opening 9 minutes.

Midfielder Johnny McIntosh was proving to be their chief scoring threat as he notched three points to hand the Saffrons an early 0-06 to 0-01 buffer.

The expected Down fightback arrived, but mattered little as the champions still held onto that five-point lead at the half-time break - 0-14 to 0-09.

Gareth Johnson, Eoin Clarke and Martin Coulter did narrow the gap before two late first half points from Karl McKeegan, who hit four frees in all, and Paddy Richmond kept Cahill's charges in front.

Down mounted a more forceful challenge on the restart and Gavin Bell was forced to hack off his own line when Coulter was in sniping for a goal on 53 minutes.

Antrim skipper Connolly goaled from a Stewart pass just forty seconds later to really put the seal on the result, with the score poised at 2-20 to 0-16 in his side's favour.

Down, with top scorer Coulter on fire from frees (0-10f), kept up the pace and deservedly gained a Johnson goal in injury-time, but it proved too late to carry any meaning.

Scorers:

Antrim: J McIntosh 0-07, J Connolly, K Stewart 1-01 each, K McKeegan 0-04, J Campbell 0-03, P Richmond, J Scullion 0-02 each, M Herron, M Scullion 0-01 each

Down: M Coulter 0-11, G Johnson 1-02, E Clarke 0-02, J McCusker, S Wilson, B McGourty 0-01 each

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery
logo-ie

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.