Dublin U-21s cruise into All-Ireland final

Dublin sauntered into the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling final with 26 points to spare over a hapless Antrim at Pairc Esler in Newry.

Dublin sauntered into the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling final with 26 points to spare over a hapless Antrim at Pairc Esler in Newry.

John McEvoy’s charges were massive favourites heading into this contest and the 1/100 odds offered by some bookmakers before throw-in were entirely justified as the Metropolitans dominated in every sector of the field from minute one during this one-sided contest.

Antrim needed a bright start but it was the young Dubs who came storming out of the blocks.

After only one minute, Mark Schutte gathered a puck-out before tearing through and unleashing an unstoppable shot to the top corner to give his side a dream start.

Antrim did recover well in fairness and Michael Devlin had the Saffrons on the board minutes later before Kevin O’Loughlin replied with a free.

The sides swapped scores through James Black and a splendid sideline cut from the impressive O’Loughlin before the Leinster champions really opened up.

With captain Liam Rushe operating as a free man due to Antrim’s sweeper system, the Ulster champions were having severe difficulty clearing halfway as Dublin's high fielding - a real feature of the first half - ensured they were dominant around the middle third.

In attack, Dublin had the upper hand over the Antrim defence but poor shooting let them down somewhat as they shot seven first half wides.

However, the boys in blue did tag on scores from O’Loughlin (0-3), Daire Plunkett and Schutte to give them a seven-point lead.

Antrim went a full 19 minutes without scoring but they finally broke that duck when Conor McCann pointed a free.

Dublin were well in control and points from Schutte and Conor Gough put them further ahead and they could really have been out of sight when Niall McMorrow unleashed a bullet that cannoned off the crossbar to safety.

McCann pointed a free to trim the gap to 1-9 to 0-4 in favour of Dublin at the half but the game was effectively over.

Any notions Antrim had of a comeback were extinguished just 30 seconds into the second half when Séan McGrath poked home from inches out after Eamon Dillon’s initial shot was saved onto the post.

This signalled a scoring avalanche for Dublin as they hit the next nine points in a row as the game turned into shooting practice. They fired over the next nine points in-a-row as they totally owned the game in all sectors of the field.

Dublin’s forwards were on fire and when Niall McMorrow pointed on 38 minutes, this ensured that all of Dublin’s starting front six were on the board.

Paddy McNaughton’s score for Antrim - their first of the second half after 49 minutes - was met with ironic cheers but this was merely token resistance. Dublin continued to pile on the scores and Ben Quinn applied the coup de gras with a 55th minute goal as Dublin had a comfortable passage through to the final.

Scorers - Dublin: K O’Loughlin 0-7 (0-3f, 0-1 '65', 0-1 sl), M Schutte 1-3, N McMorrow 0-4, S McGrath 1-1, D Plunkett 0-3, B Quinn 1-0, E Dillon 0-2, D Curran C Gough T Connolly O Maolileidigh 0-1 each

Antrim: C McCann 0-3 (0-3f), M Devlin J Black P McNaughton 0-1 each

DUBLIN: Ger McManus; Bill O’Carroll, Darren Kelly, Jack Doughan; Dean Curran, Liam Rushe, Martin Quilty; Conor Gough; Danny Sutcliffe; Daire Plunkett; Mark Schutte, Séan McGrath; Kevin O’Loughlin, Niall McMorrow, Eamon Dillon.

Subs used: Fionnán Clabby for O'Carroll (43 mins), Tomas Connolly for O'Loughlin (45), Odhran Ó Maoileidigh for McGrath, Stephen O'Connor for Sutcliffe (both 48), Ben Quinn for Rushe (54).

ANTRIM: Eoin Gillan; Terry McAllister, Kevin McKiernan, Peter McKeague; Michael Armstrong, Neilly Cunningham, Chris Loughran; Conor Laverty, Paddy McNaughton; James Black, Michael Devlin, Tony McCloskey; Dessie McLean, Conor McCann, Stephen Smyth.

Subs used: Conor Gillan for Cunningham (39 mins), Adrian Downey for McKeague (47), Brian Curran for Laverty (56).

Referee: Fergus Smith (Meath)

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