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.


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

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