ANTRIM will face Munster champions Tipperary in the All-Ireland U21 hurling championship semi-final after overcoming a skilful Armagh side at Casement Park last night.
The Orchardmen trailed by just three points by the 58th minute of a game that was level on five occasions. Antrim can thank the score-taking of man of the match Darren Hamill who finished with a tally of 10 points, six of which came from open play, and full back Cormac Donnelly who played a captain’s role in the second half.
A sluggish Antrim side took a while to get into gear and gradually got into the game with Hamill slotting over two points in quick succession
After Antrim led 0-9 to 0-8, just before the break, Donnelly extended their lead after the restart but a brace each from accurate free-taker Kieran McKernan and the excellent Conor Coulter had Armagh back in the lead.
Playing with the second half breeze, Antrim began to get on top with senior star PJ O’Connell landing two fine points from range to cut the gap.
After sustained Antrim pressure, Martin Maguire pointed Armagh’s first score for 12 minutes, but the Saffrons added two further points to retain their title and set up an All-Ireland semi-final with Munster champions Tipperary.
ANTRIM: E Gillen; K Molloy, C Donnelly (0-4, 0-4f), L McAuley; C Corvan, S Shannon, J Campbell; PJ O’Connell (0-2), E Laverty; M Devlin, T McCann (0-1), C Rocks; M Armstrong (0-3), D Hamill (0-10, 0-4f)), C Quinn
Subs: M Lynch for E Laverty, G Laverty for M Devlin, T McAlister for L McAuley, S Woulahan for C Rocks
ARMAGH: P Kelly; R Comiskey, P Gaffney, JJ Hughes; S McNaughton, N Curry (0-1), D Carville; K McKernan (0-7, 0-6f), M Maguire (0-2); P Monaghan, M Lennon (0-2f), D Carville; C Corvan (0-1), C Coulter (0-3), M Moan
Subs: T Duffy for P Monaghan
Referee: D Magee (Down)
Meath 4-13 Kildare 1-16
By Noel Coogan
FULL-FORWARD Neil Heffernan netted four goals as Meath claimed the Leinster U21 A hurling title at the expense of Kildare at Trim last evening.
Heffernan had raised the green flag three times in the facile semi-final success over Wicklow at the same venue two weeks ago and it only took him two minutes to continue his scoring streak as an early advantage was secured.
The second goal arrived after five minutes but with Martin Fitzgerald spearheading their attack, Kildare were well in touch until Heffernan netted his third goal on the half-hour mark to leave it 3-5 to 0-8 at the break.
Meath resumed strongly with points from Anthony Healy, David Raleigh and Barry Slevin (free) to emphasise their superiority before Heffernan struck again at the start of the final quarter to leave the scores 4-10 to 0-10. Kildare kept plugging away and were rewarded with a late goal from substitute Gavin Sutherland just before the final whistle.
MEATH: S McGann; D Carthy, M Dunne, W Mahady; A Watters, K Joyce, D Kennedy; K Keoghan (0-1,f), M O’Sullivan (0-1); A Healy (0-1), E Marsh (0-1), A Douglas (0-1); B Slevin (0-4,3fs), N Heffernan (4-0), D Raleigh ((0-3).
Subs: N Fagan (0-1) for Heffernan (54), K Keena for Marsh (59).
KILDARE: S Whelan; C Chan, S Piggott, P O’Sullivan; J Byrne, N O Muineachain (0-1), K Domican (0-1); J O’Malley, E O’Neill; C Kenny (0-3) D McSweeney, E Doyle; S Buggy, M Fitzgerald (0-6, 3fs, 2 65s), J Roche (0-1).
Subs: L Quinn (0-2) for Piggott (14), D Butler (0-1) for Buggy ((22), K Sutherland (1-1, gl f) for McSweeney (36).
Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow).
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