O'Connell goals steer Antrim to victory over Carlow

Antrim made it back-to-back wins in the Leinster SHC qualifier group as they defeated Carlow at Dr Cullen Park.

O'Connell goals steer Antrim to victory over Carlow

Carlow 1-17 Antrim 2-18

Antrim made it back-to-back wins in the Leinster SHC qualifier group as they defeated Carlow at Dr Cullen Park.

PJ O'Connell bagged a brace of goals and in-form free-taker Paul Shiels struck 0-11 (0-8f).

The Saffrons led 1-11 to 0-12 after a fluent first half, with Denis Murphy closing the gap to one on the restart.

But O'Connell capitalised on a David English error for his second goal and Marty Kavanagh's late penalty made little difference.

Kevin Ryan's charges, winners over Westmeath in the opening round, fell 0-2 to 0-1 behind initially as Murphy and Jack Kavanagh pointed Carlow ahead.

The pressure was on the Barrowsiders to bounce back after drawing with London in Ruislip, but the early injury-enforced departure of Eddie Byrne and the concession of a soft goal left them up against it.

Shiels brought Antrim level at 0-2 apiece before Ciaran Clarke played in the unmarked O'Connell to fire to the net, with his goal separating the sides for much of the round 2 encounter.

Carlow recovered well to make it a one-point game by the midpoint of the half - 1-5 to 0-7 - as Richard and Paul Coady, Byrne's replacement Andrew Gaule and Jack and Shane Kavanagh all pointed.

Shiels was Antrim's only scorer during this period and the improving hosts were back level in the 20th minute when Jack Kavanagh released wing forward Shane on the outside for a neatly-taken point.

Carlow were beginning to get on top in midfield as Gaule teed up Paul Coady for an excellent long range strike, but Shiels quickly replied for the Glensmen at 1-6 to 0-9.

Antrim struggled for scores from open play before young forward Conor McCann converted three chances before half-time, the second being deflected over by goalkeeper Brian Treacy and the final one coming after Hugh Paddy O'Byrne failed to get his clearance away.

Those turnovers proved costly for Carlow as despite some good shooting from Gaule, Marty Kavanagh and Murphy, they went in at the break 1-11 to 0-12 behind.

The two-point buffer remained in place for the early part of the second half as O'Connell and Shiels (0-2) swapped scores with Carlow free-taker Murphy (0-2) and James Doyle.

Shiels took his tally to 0-10 but then proved he was human with a miss from 45 metres out. Even still, the Dunloy clubman was quick to respond to a Marty Kavanagh as Antrim led 1-16 to 0-16 with 13 minutes left.

The tit-for-tat scoring continued as Murphy and Clarke traded frees but than came the mistake from Carlow captain English, who slipped when in possession from a short puck-out. Antrim gobbled up the loose ball and O'Connell finished smartly for a 2-17 to 0-17 lead.

That was effectively 'game over' for Carlow and although Marty Kavanagh did well to blast home a 67th minute penalty, O'Connell added the insurance point for Antrim to complete his haul of 2-3.

CARLOW: Brian Treacy; Alan Corcoran, Paul Doyle, Gary Kelly; Hugh Patrick O'Byrne, David English (capt), Richard Coady (0-1); Jack Kavanagh (0-2), Craig Wall; Shane Kavanagh (0-2), Eddie Byrne, James Doyle (0-1); Marty Kavanagh (1-2, 1-0 pen), Paul Coady (0-2), Denis Murphy (0-5, 0-4f).

Subs used: Andrew Gaule (0-2) for Byrne (inj), Diarmuid Byrne for O'Byrne, Ross Smithers for P Coady.

ANTRIM: Chris O'Connell; Odhran McFadden, Conor McKinley, Ciaran Johnson; Eoghan Campbell, Neal McAuley, Neil McManus (capt); Aaron Graffin, Simon McCrory; Conor Carson, Paul Shiels (0-11, 0-8f), Conor McCann (0-3); Ciaran Clarke (0-1, 0-1f), Darren Hamill, PJ O'Connell (2-3).

Subs used: Michael Bradley for McAuley (blood sub), Barry McFall for McCrory, Daniel McKernan for Hamill, Stephen McAfee for Carson, Tomas McCann for Clarke.

Referee: Eamon Hasson (Derry)

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