Four goals see Antrim retain their Leinster senior hurling championship status

Conal Cunning and James McNaughton each net twice in win over Carlow

Leinster SHC Round 5: Antrim 4-22 Carlow 2-22

Goals proved the difference at Corrigan Park on Sunday as Antrim retained their Leinster senior hurling championship status at the expense of Carlow.

Conal Cunning and James McNaughton netted twice for Darren Gleeson’s men who managed to stay in the top flight for a third year, while Carlow drop down to the Joe McDonagh Cup having battled their way out of it just a year ago.

Carlow were brighter early on, but a red card for Chris Nolan before the second half began after an altercation at the end of the first did not help their cause as Antrim began to find a way to ensure the are in the top tier for a third year.

Carlow enjoyed the better of it early as Martin Kavanagh and Sean Elliott traded points before they rattled of the next three.


Antrim had the first sight of goal after five minutes when Conal Cunning miscued when attempting a first-time pull, but there was no denying the Dunloy man three minutes later as he was played in by James McNaughton and finished.

But Carlow seemed to always have an answer as they gradually opened a gap with a goal three minutes later as the pace of Chris Nolan saw him get clear and finish from an angle.

Nolan, Kavanagh, James Doyle and Conor Kehoe were all finding their range as they made the most of the wind advantage.

Antrim were just not accurate at times but there was a sense they had the ability to create goals and their second came on 20 minutes as James McNaughton found himself through to finish and bring his side to within two.

A third came four minutes later and from a penalty when Seaan Elliott was bundled over by Paul Doyle for what was deemed a goalscoring opportunity outside the area, with Doyle also sinbinned and Cunning finishing the award to bring the game level.

Carlow again replied with three of the next four points as all six starting forwards had now registered, but Antrim finished the half well with a pair of Cunning frees and then Keelan Molloy clipped them into the lead for the first half in stoppage time as Antrim led 3-9 to 1-14.

A coming together just at the short whistle would ultimately lead to a red card for Chris Nolan at the start of the second half as Carlow’s task got tougher, but early points from Kavanagh and Conor Kehoe got them ahead.

Antrim began to take charge again with Keelan Molloy, Niall O’Connor and Gerard Walsh finding their range from deep.

The gap was always three or four as Carlow hung in and there with 15 to play, Ciaran Whelan blocked down O’Connor which would lead to a goal from Kavanagh.

But Antrim hit back through Conor Boyd and then got a goal of their own as two minutes later Seaan Elliott teed up McNaughton to crack home.

Carlow kept in touch through Kavanagh, but Antrim were finding the answers as they pulled away and saw it out to retain their status.

ANTRIM: R Elliott; C Boyd (0-1), R McCloskey, P Burke (0-1); G Walsh (0-2f), N O’Connor (0-2), E Campbell; M Bradley, K Molloy (0-3); N Elliott (0-1), J McNaughton (2-3), N McKenna; C Cunning (2-7, 1-0 pen, 0-5f, 0-2 65s), C McCann (0-1), S Elliott (0-1). Subs: P Boyle for M Bradley (62), J McLaughlin for C McCann (64), C McGarry for S Elliott (70+2), R McMullan for N Elliott (70+3), F McCurry for J McNaughton (70+4).

CARLOW: B Tracey; P Doyle, D Wall, N Boland; J Kavanagh (0-1), K McDonald (0-1), T Lawlor; J McCullagh, P Boland; C Nolan (1-1), C Whelan (0-1), M Kavanagh (1-11, 0-8f, 0-2 65s); C Kehoe (0-3), JM Nolan (0-1), James Doyle (0-3). Subs: F Fitzpatrick for J Kavanagh (47), D Murphy for JM Nolan (65), R Coady for C Whelan (70+1).

Referee: J Owens (Wexford).