Antrim 1-12 Cork 0-18

Updated: Sunday, 16 Mar 2014 16:58 | Comments

Neil McManus set up Antrim's goal but they couldn't hang on for the victory
Neil McManus set up Antrim's goal but they couldn't hang on for the victory

The outcome was expected, although the score line was closer than most people expected as Cork ran out 0-18 to 1-12 winners over Antrim in this Allianz Hurling League clash at Ballycastle.

Antrim led 1-09 to 0-08 at the break, with the Saffrons' goal coming in injury-time when Neil McManus' long range effort was touched home by Matthew Donnelly.

The Ulster men had led from the quarter hour mark, and would have been further ahead if they had converted some of their 11 first half wides.

But the hurling gods shone on Cork today as a Patrick Horgan placed ball exhibition overhauled a four-point half-time deficit to give the Rebels a victory they just about deserved.

The drawn game in Tullamore between Offaly and Limerick was further proof that luck was on their side, with Jimmy Barry-Murphy's side now sitting in the promotion spot in Allianz Hurling League Division 1B going into the final round of games.

However, it could have been a very different atmosphere on the team bus on the long journey home had Antrim not missed a hatful of scoring chances.

Although Cork had the wind advantage to come after the restart, it was not until Horgan's 61st-minute point that the visitors took the lead.

Earlier, Donnelly had touched the sliotar to the Cork net on the stroke of half-time after McManus' long delivery had been batted down by Cork goalkeeper Darren McCarthy to give Antrim a deserved 1-09 to 0-08 advantage at the break.

The opening 10 minutes were fairly even with the sides sharing six points at 0-03 apiece. There were signs, however, that Antrim's full-forward line could cause a bit of trouble when Donnelly's sixth-minute effort flew over the crossbar.

Antrim led by double scores, 0-06 to 0-03, on the 20-minute mark with Barry McFall adding the pick of the scores from long range.

Horgan, who finished the day with 0-11, cut the gap before a Conor Lehane brace either side of a Stephen McAfee free put just one between the sides, with Conor Johnson again serving notice to the Cork defence when forcing a great save from McCarthy.

The same margin separated the sides as the clock ticked into injury-time but McManus' effort dropped short for Donnelly to pounce on the breaking ball for the game's only goal.

Cork's best goal chance arrived 40 seconds into the second half when a Horgan shot was well saved by Chris O'Connell. The same player opened the second half scoring on 40 minutes, and accounted for the next three Cork scores.

Antrim served up replies from Paul Shiels and McAfee to give the Glesnmen a one-point advantage approaching the 60-minute mark.

Brian Hartnett had the ball in the Antrim net but was harshly blown up for over carrying, and Lehane then forced O'Connell into action again when pulling on the ground after a scramble at the edge of the square.

Horgan pointed the resulting '65', and moments later converted a free to put Cork into the lead for the first time since the sixth minute.

Shiels added Antrim's first point for 12 minutes but points from Horgan, Lehane and Patrick Cronin ensured Cork maintained their unbeaten record. Antrim's Neil McManus saw red late on for a second bookable offence.

Antrim: C O'Connell; Ciaran Johnson, C McKinley, O McFadden; N McManus (0-02, 0-02f), N McAuley, E Campbell; Barry McFall (0-01), D Hamill; C Carson (0-02), S McAfee (0-04, 0-02f), C McCann; Conor Johnson, M Donnelly (1-01), PJ O'Connell.

Subs: S Beatty for McCann, J McGreevy for McFall, N Elliott for PJ O'Connell, P Shiels (0-02, 0-01f) for Hamill, D McKernan for McGreevy.

Cork: D McCarthy; S McDonnell, E Keane, K Murphy; S White, C Joyce, W Egan; L McLoughlin, P Cronin (0-01); B Lawton, S Harnedy, D Kearney; P Horgan (0-11, 0-08f, 0-01 '65'), C Lehane (0-04), B Hartnett (0-01).

Subs: C McCarthy for Harnedy, R O'Shea for McLoughlin, P Haughney (0-01) for Kearney, A Cadogan for White.

Referee: Eamonn Hassan (Derry)

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