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Under 21s: Antrim 2-15 Wexford 1-16

Updated: Saturday, 24 Aug 2013 19:38 | Comments

Antrim players celebrate at full time
Antrim players celebrate at full time

Antrim have stunned Wexford in this afternoon’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling championship semi-final at Semple Stadium, winning 2-15 to 1-16

The Saffrons shocked Wexford in Thurles to become the first Ulster team to reach the final of this competition.

Managed by senior boss Kevin Ryan, Antrim produced an accomplished display and trailed just once, when Ian Byrne popped over the opening score of the game with a Wexford free.

Antrim never looked back after Stephen McAfee scored a fortuitous goal in the third minute and they will now face Clare or Galway in the final at Semple Stadium on 14 September.

Corner forward Ciarán Clarke bagged 1-05 (including 0-05 from frees) and centre-forward Stephen McAfee hit 1-04 from play as the Ulster champions earned a landmark win.

Antrim had the lead out to eight points, 2-13 to 0-11, with 20 minutes remaining before Wexford threatened a revival.

Conor McDonald scored a last minute goal to cut the gap back to just three points before Jack Guiney tagged on another score for Wexford.

But time ran out for the Slaneysiders as Antrim’s gritty first-half display paved the way for victory.

At half-time, they led by 2-7 to 0-9, even though all six of Wexford’s forwards scored from play, as well as midfielder and captain Lee Chin.

But Antrim got off to a flier in the third minute when McAfee’s speculative effort was fumbled into his own net by Wexford goalkeeper Brian Murphy, as he attempted to catch the greasy sliotar.

And Antrim scored a second goal in the 13th minute when Clarke cut in from the left touchline before flashing a low shot across the boughs of Murphy and into the bottom corner of the Town End netting.

That strike handed Antrim a 2-04 to 0-04 lead and they would lead again by six before Wexford hit four of the last six points on offer in the opening half, including two from senior star Guiney.

Despite the fact that Wexford were trailing in the second half, and staring defeat in the face, they still played with seven defenders.

Antrim were content to keep the scoreboard ticking over with some fabulous long-range shooting in the second half.

Clarke was in the mood to capitalise from placed balls and McAfee was a shining light for Antrim at centre forward.

Remarkably, Wexford were 1-80 favourites before throw-in but Antrim tore up the formbook.

Antrim: G Dixon; C Morgan, M Donnelly, T Coyle; T Ó’Ciaráin, P McNaughton, C Johnson (0-01); J McGreevey (0-02), E Campbell; N McKenna (0-02), S McAfee (1-04), S Dooey; D McKernan (0-01), C McCann, C Clarke (1-05, 0-05f).

Subs: D Kearney for McKenna (58).

Wexford: B Murphy; G Foley, C Goff, E Conroy; Andrew Kenny, S O’Gorman, D O’Leary; L Chin (0-01), Aaron Kenny; J Guiney (0-07, 6f), I Byrne (0-02, 1f), G Moore (0-02); C McDonald (1-01), B Carton (0-01), R Clarke (0-02).

Subs: A Nolan for Byrne (36), C O’Leary for D O’Leary (43), T French for Aaron Kenny (51).

Referee: C McAllister (Cork).

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