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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018
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Late scoring spree saves All-Ireland champs Galway from league loss to Antrim

Tough test for the Liam MacCarthy Cup holders in Pearse Stadium.

Galway's Conor Cooney was key today for the Tribesmen.
Galway's Conor Cooney was key today for the Tribesmen.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Galway 1-19
Antrim 1-16

Declan Rooney reports from Pearse Stadium

ALL-IRELAND WINNERS GALWAY left it late and needed a late flurry of scores to avoid defeat to Antrim in their first game as champions in Pearse Stadium in today’s Division 1B hurling league tie.

Three points ahead with 14 minutes remaining, Antrim could not finish off the job as Galway’s bench made an impact, while Eanna Burke and Joseph Cooney scores in the finishing straight saw Galway to the win.

A goal from Conor McCann inspired Antrim early in the second-half, while Neil McManus hit ten point from his side, who can be happy with their display on their return to the second flight.

After winning the toss and electing to play with the aid of the strong Salthill breeze, Antrim caused huge problems for Galway before the break and only for a goal one minute from the break form debutant Brian Concannon they would have led at half-time.

Seven points from Neil McManus, including two excellent efforts from play, and another two from Nigel Elliott saw Antrim impose themselves on their hosts, although a couple of the five wides they hit in that opening 35 minutes could have been avoided too.

Galway, in their first outing as All-Ireland champions, were applauded onto the pitch by the sizeable Pearse Stadium crowd and a guard of honour from Antrim, but without any Walsh Cup games to warm up for the Division 1B campaign, Galway looked short of game-time and, understandably, a long way short of their September prime.

Despite this lack of accuracy in their play they still opened up a 0-6 to 0-2 lead by the 12th minute. Concannon’s work could have led to a goal from Paul Flaherty in the first minute, but a great save from Chris O’Connell denied Flaherty, although Conor Cooney landed the 65 for the opening score.

McManus points levelled matters in the second and sixth minutes, but Joseph Cooney’s point and three Conor Cooney frees put Galway in control.

But with Conor Johnston and Donal McKinley performing well around midfield, where Antrim crowded matters, the Ulster men landed three in a row as McManus and Gerard Walsh scored from play in the 15th and 16th minutes.

Aidan Harte was handed a sweeping role around Daithi Burke, and while he gathered a lot of possession, his distribution let him down on a couple of key times before half-time as McManus and Elliott punished him with scores as Antrim took a 0-10 to 0-9 lead in the 31st minute.

But a big hit from Conor Cooney on Paddy Burke forced a turnover in the 34th minute and after the St Thomas’ attacker carried well, he fed Concannon who hit the net from a tight angle to give Galway a 1-9 to 0-11 lad at the break.

Despite that setback and a good Joseph Cooney point to start the second-half, Antrim retook the lead in the 40th minute when Conor McCann’s low shot found its way past James Skehill – perhaps with the aid of a deflection off Daithi Burke.

Another McManus free put Antrim two points clear in the 44th minute, and although Eanna Burke replied, Conor Johnston and Elliott a hit points from play to stretch that advantage to three points.

But Galway came charging back as the prospect of defeat became a reality.

Substitutes Cathal Mannion, John Hanbury and Davy Glennon all hit good scores to go with Joseph Cooney’s effort, while Conor Cooney sealed the win in added-time for the Tribesmen.

Scorers for Galway: Conor Cooney 0-6 (0-4f, 0-1 ‘65) Brian Concannon 1-1, Joseph Cooney 0-3, Eanna Burke 0-3, Niall Burke 0-1, Paul Flaherty 0-1, Martin Dolphin 0-1, John Hanbury 0-1, Davey Glennon 0-1, Cathal Mannion 0-1

Scorers for Antrim: Neil McManus 0-10 (0-7f, 0-1 ‘65,) Nigel Elliot 0-3, Conor McCann 1-0, Conor Johnston 0-1, Gerard Walsh, David Kearney 0-1.

Galway

1. James Skehill (Cappataggle)

2. Matthew Donoghue (Moycullen)
3. Daithi Burke (Turloughmore)
4. Jack Grealish (Gort)

5. Adrian Tuohy (Beagh)
6. Martin Dolphin (Portumna)
7. Aidan Harte (Gort)

8. Johnny Coen (Loughrea)
9. Eanna Burke (St Thomas)

10. Niall Burke (Oranmore-Maree)
11. Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)
12. Paul Flaherty (Abbeyknockmoy)

13. Brian Concannon (Killimordaly)
14. Conor Cooney (St Thomas’)
15. Jason Flynn (Tommy Larkins)

Substitutes

22. Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh) for Concannon (30-32 Blood)
18. Seán Loftus (Turloughmore) for Harte (half-time)
19. Gearóid McInerney for Grealish (41)
22. Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh) for Flaherty (47)
24. John Hanbury (Rahoon/Newcastle) for Donoghue (50)
25. Davey Glennon (Mullagh) for Flynn (60)

Antrim

1. Chris O’Connell (Loughgiel Shamrocks)

4. Arron Graffin (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)
3. John Dillon (Glen Rovers/Armoy)
2. David Kearney (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)

5. Joe Maskey (St Enda’s)
6. Matthew Donnelly (McQuillan Ballycastle)
7. Paddy Burke (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)

8. Conor McKinley (Dunloy)
9. Gerard Walsh (O’Donovan Rossa)

10. Maoi Connolly (Loughgiel Shamrocks)
11. Neil McManus (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)
12. Nigel Elliott (Dunloy)

15. Conor Johnston (St John’s)
14. Conor McCann (Kickham Creggans)
13. Donal Mc Kinley (Loughgiel Shamrocks)

Substitutes:

17. James Connelly (O’Donovan Rossa) for Connolly (27)
19. James McNaughton (Loughgiel Shamrocks) for Elliot (65)
23. Eoin O’Neill (Dunloy) for McKinley (67)

Referee: John O’Brien (Laois)

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Declan Rooney

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