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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 17 December, 2018
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Antrim hurlers see off Kildare in the game neither side wanted to play

The Ulster county got the better of the Christy Ring Cup winners this afternoon at Armagh’s Athletic Grounds.

Conor McCann celebrates scoring their second goal Conor McCann celebrates after scoring Antrim's second goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Antrim 3-23
Kildare 1-17

Orla Bannon reports from the Athletic Grounds

JUST A WEEK after playing the Christy Ring Cup final, the Kildare hurlers’ bid to gain promotion to the Joe McDonagh Cup for next season ended in sweltering conditions in Armagh this afternoon.

Having conquered hurling’s third tier seven days ago, the Lilywhites faded badly in the second half against Antrim, who will now retain their place in the Joe McDonagh Cup in 2019.

Antrim and Kildare had issued a joint statement on Thursday questioning the need to play this game at all, and calling on the GAA not to reduce the number of teams in the Joe McDonagh next year from six to five. But as things stand, Kildare will be back in the Christy Ring Cup next year after this defeat.

Despite their efforts last weekend, Kildare started brightly with Paul Divilly hitting the net after just three minutes. Jack Sheridan did all the hard work in the left corner and floated it across for Divilly to bat into the net at the far post.

The Lilywhites stayed ahead through James Burke frees, but Antrim got a lot of joy out of long puck-outs over the Kildare half-back line as they began to work scores. Keelan Molloy scored three first-half points and Nigel Elliott nailed one from the wing after a Kildare attack broke down.

Nigel Elliott breaks through Nigel Elliott on the attack for Antrim. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A Neil McManus 65 put Antrim in front for the first time in the 18th minute and after a water break due to the heat, he was switched on to score the Saffrons’ opening goal; catching a Kildare puck-out, running towards goal and delivering a neat, low finish to open up a 1-7 to 1-3 lead.

They stretched their cushion with Conor McCann reading the breaking ball and beating goalkeeper Paddy McKenna, who earlier made a superb save from Nigel Elliott. McManus struck his second goal in first-half injury time to leave it 3-9 to 1-9 at the break.

The first half was pretty competitive, but the second half was a non-event. Kildare wilted and managed just seven second-half points while Antrim tagged on scores at their leisure, Keelan Molloy finishing with 0-6 from play.

Scorers for Antrim: Neil McManus 2-10 (6f, one ’65′); Keelan Molloy 0-6; Conor McCann 1-1; Nigel Elliott 0-2; Ryan McCambridge, Eoin O’Neill, Eddie McCloskey and John Dillon 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kildare: Paul Divilly 1-6 (2f); James Burke 0-6 (5f); Bernard Deay 0-2; Chris Bonus, Kevin Whelan and Eanna O’Neill 0-1 each.

Antrim

1. Ryan Elliott

2. Aaron Graffin
3. John Dillon
7. Conor McKinley

5. Paddy Burke
6. Matthew Donnelly
20 Ryan McCambridge

8. Simon McCrory
10. Keelan Mooloy

9. Eoghan Campbell
11. Neil McManus
12. Nigel Elliott

19. Conor Carson
14. Conor McCann
15. Eoin O’Neill

Subs

17. Donal McKinley for McCambridge (50)
18. James McNaughton for Donnelly (63)
23. Eddie McCloskey for O’Neill (66)
4. Stephen Rooney for McCrory (70)
22 Daniel McCloskey for Carson (70)

Kildare

1. Paddy McKenna

22. Conor Gordon
3. John Doran
4. Paul Sullivan

5. Eanna O’Neill
6. Mark Moloney
7. Kevin Whelan

8. Niall O’Muineachain
9. Brian Byrne

10. James Burke
11. Paul Divilly
15. Jack Sheridan

13. Mark Delaney
14. Martin Fitzgerald
12. Bernard Deay

Subs

18. Chris Bonus for Deay (53)
25. Diarmuid Cahill for Whelan (53)
20. Sean Gainey for Burke (56)
19. Barry Cormack for Delaney (60)
17. Shane Walsh for O’Neill (68)

Referee: David Hughes (Carlow)

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About the author:

Orla Bannon

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