ANTRIM’S U21 hurlers remain on course to retain their title after a four-point win over Down at a rain-lashed Casement Park last night.
Antrim led by a point at the break, having held a four-point advantage after 21 minutes. The home side played the better hurling in the opening stages and were value for their 0-8 to 0-4 lead when Darren Hamill stroked over his third free of the evening.
Down clawed their way back through a Paul Keith goal, although the impressive Michael Armstrong extended Antrim’s lead two minutes later. A Conor Woods 65 and an excellent point from Keith levelled matters but a Hamill point gave Antrim a 0-10 to 1-6 lead at the break.
Down gained the lead for the first time after the restart when Danny Toner and Woods pointed but Antrim scored five of the next seven points to regain control, the pick of which was a long-range effort from Michael Devlin.
The impressive Hamill kept the scoreboard ticking over for Antrim from placed balls and play to secure a place in another Ulster final for the Glensmen.
ANTRIM: E Gillen; M Burke, S Shannon, L McAuley; C Carson, K Molloy, J Campbell (0-1); PJ O’Connell (0-1), G Laverty; M Devlin (0-2), T McCann (0-1), C Rocks (0-1); M Armstrong (0-4), D Hamill (0-9, 0-4f, 0-2 ‘65’), C Brogan.
Subs: Terry McAlister for M Burke, M Lynch for G Laverty.
DOWN: D Ennis; M Conlon, P Flynn, M Hughes; S Conlon, C Woods (0-4, 0-1, 0-1 ‘65’, 0-1 sideline), C Hughes; A O’Prey, M Magee; C Mageean (0-1), P Keith (1-2), P McAleenan; D Toner (0-4, 0-3f), J Coyle, A Clarke (0-1).
Subs: P O’Neill for A O’Prey.
Referee: E Hasson (Derry).
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