Strong finish sees Antrim advance

Antrim 3-18 Westmeath 2-13

Strong finish sees Antrim advance

Antrim 3-18 Westmeath 2-13

Antrim advanced to meet Laois in the next round of the Leinster SHC after coming good in the second-half at Cusack Park in Mullingar this afternoon.

Antrim trailed by 1-9 to 1-7 at the interval but second-half goals from captain Neil McManus and full-forward Conor Carson saw them secure a deserved victory.

Both sides finished with 14 men with Antrim substitute Karl Stewart sent off within seconds of coming on following an incident with Westmeath defender, while Derek McNicholas also received his marching orders when he picked up a second yellow card in a game where seven other players were booked.

Antrim started well against the wind but Westmeath drew level after 10 minutes when Niall O’Brien fired home a goal to make it 1-1 to 0-4.

But McManus responded immediately for Antrim when he finished the ball from close range.

Westmeath tacked on a string of points but could never open up a substantial lead with the wind and they led by just 1-9 to 1-7 at the interval.

They started the second-half strongly with the impressive Eoin Price finding the range but then McNicholas had a penalty deflected over after 38 minutes.

Antrim responded with a goal from a penalty when McManus blasted home after Conor Carson was fouled and the superb Jackson McGreeney and Eddie McCloskey also found the range to put them 2-9 to 1-11 in front after 46 minutes.

The loss of substitute Stewart did little to stem the flow and Antrim landed three more points and Carson got a goal from close range to pull 3-12 to 1-11 in front after 58 minutes.

Westmeath never gave up and after Price got another point, Tommy Doyle drilled home a goal to narrow the gap to five points in the closing stages.

But Antrim finished strongly with points from McManus, Tony McCloskey and subs Shay Casey and Ciaran Clarke to seal a deserved win.

Antrim: N McManus 2-4 (1-0 free), S McNaughton 0-5 (2fs, 1 65), C Carson 1-0, J McGreevey 0-2, E McCloskey 0-2, M Donnelly 0-1, T McCloskey 0-1, P Shiels 0-1, S Casey 0-1, C Clarke 0-1.

Westmeath: D McNicholas 0-5 (3f), E Price 0-4, T Doyle 1-0, N O’Brien 1-0, B Murtagh 0-2, R Greville 0-1, A Clarke 0-1.

Antrim: R McGarry; B McFall, A Graffin, M McFadden; C McKinley, N McAuley, P Shiels; J McGreevey, T McCloskey; S Beattie, M Donnelly, E McCloskey; S McNaughton, C Carson, N McManus.

Subs: C McGuinness for Beattie 21, O McFadden for M McFadden 39, K Stewart for McGuinness 49, C Clarke for Donnelly 58, S Casey for McNaughton 64.

Westmeath: P Collins; T Gallagher, A Price, D Fennell; G Greville, A McGrath, T Doyle; E Price, R Greville; J Shaw, D McNicholas, J Clarke; N O’Brien, B Murtagh, A Clarke.

Subs: C Jordan for A Price 63, J Boyle for J Clarke 66, S Power for Fennell 66.

Referee: J Owens (Wexford).

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