Ulster title is finally Antrim's

New York 1-14 Antrim 2-20, Canton

New York 1-14 Antrim 2-20, Canton

Five months after the 2006 Guinness Ulster SHC final was originally scheduled, the hurlers of Antrim collected the title tonight with a satisfying win over underdogs New York.

Played as a curtain raiser to the M Donnelly Interprovincial football final, the Saffrons did enough to win the Ulster championship for the fifth successive year.

Johnny McIntosh (1-7) and Paddy Richmond (1-2) were the leading scorers for Jim McKernan's victorious side, who already have the Christy Ring Cup in the cabinet from earlier in the season.

However the result was marred slightly as defender Malachy Molloy was brought to hospital after being struck by a New York player's hurl in the first half. According to Antrim sources, the Dunloy clubman sustained a broken jaw and some extensive dental injuries.

New York, helped by a seven-point contribution from Michael 'Bonnie' Kennedy, did themselves proud by making the decider as competitive as possible.

New York originally forced the postponement of the June 4 decider in Belfast due to visa concerns for some of their players, and with Antrim not wishing to travel Stateside in the summer, New York manager Monty Moloney dubbed them "cowards."

Suitably geed up, Antrim tore into the opposition from the throw-in and quickly moved into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead. McIntosh hit three of their early points with full-forward Richmond almost getting in for a goal.

Tipperary man Kennedy replied for New York before McIntosh struck home Antrim's first goal in the 13th-minute, finding the net from a tricky angle.

Points from McIntosh, Conor Cunning, Martin Scullion and Brian McFall helped move the defending champions into an eight-point lead, while right corner forward McIntosh boasted 1-6 by the time of referee Ger Devlin's half-time whistle.

A trio of long range frees, hit late in the half, from Kennedy helped keep his side competitive - they were 1-14 to 0-9 in arrears at the break.

Hopes of a New York comeback were raised when substitute Trevor Fletcher drove a low shot past the hurl of Antrim 'keeper DD Quinn just three minutes into the second half. Fletcher showed good control after running onto a ball over the top of the Antrim defence from the workman-like Kevin Kennedy.

Moloney's side squeezed the difference down to four points when 'Bonnie' Kennedy sent over his seventh free of the afternoon, yet Richmond's blockbuster of a goal, on 45 minutes, turned the tie back in Antrim's favour.

While New York missed a great chance for a second goal when Kevin Kennedy blazed wide and then went almost 20 minutes without adding to their tally, Antrim had plenty of ammunition up front with Richmond and Michael Herron finding the target.

To add insult to injury in front of a 5,000-strong crowd, 'Bonnie' Kennedy was sent off on 67 minutes for his second bookable offence.

Antrim, who travelled over with a party of 41, are to return home with the trophy next weekend after an extended stay on America's east coast.

NEW YORK: A Gleeson; P Wickham, R Gaule, M Mitchell; H O'Leary (0-1), T Moylan, A Guinan; L O'Connor, T Maher; M Kennedy (0-7 (7f)), J Madden, P Murray; K Bergin (0-5), M Finn, K Kennedy.

Subs used: S Corrigan for Wickham, T Fletcher (1-1) for Maher, C White for Madden, K McKay for O'Leary.

ANTRIM: DD Quinn; B McCauley, J McKeague, J Campbell; M Molloy, K McKeegan (0-1 (1 '65')), C Herron (0-1); C Cunning (0-1), M Scullion (0-1); J Scullion, C Kelly, M Herron (0-2); J McIntosh (1-7 (1f)), P Richmond (1-2), B McFall (0-4 (2f)).

Subs used: G Bell for McFall, B Delargy for Kelly, P McGill for McIntosh, M Dallas (0-1) for M Scullion, S Og McFadden for Richmond.

Referee: Ger Devlin (Armagh).

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