Antrim’s have edge over Laois in Leinster huring round-robin series
Ciarán Clarke produces superb performance with a tally of 2-7
Antrim’s Neill McManus celebrates a crucial victory over Laois. Photo: John McIlwaine/Inpho
Antrim got off to a bright start and led by 1-2 to 0-1 after eight minutes, Neil McManus with the goal. Laois got a foothold in the game with two Zane Keenan frees, and Paddy Whelan’s superb effort from play left three points between the sides on 10 minutes. Then came Antrim’s second goal, Conor Johnston getting the faintest of touches to McManus’s sideline cut.
On the quarter hour mark, Laois reduced the deficit to a single point when Keenan converted from the penalty spot, and on 21 minutes the sides were all square at 2-3 to 1-6, with Keenan’s accuracy from the dead ball keeping the scoreboard ticking over.
The visitors went into the lead for the first time when Tommy Fitzgerald bundled the ball over the Antrim line for the game’s fourth goal on 22 minutes.
On the half hour mark, Laois were five to the good, 2-8 to 2-3, with Keenan’s first from play splitting the posts, and with the sides sharing the next 10 points, Laois held the same advantage at the break, 2-13 to 2-8.
Antrim were back in the mix on 43 minutes when a superb Johnston goal cut the gap to three, 3-10 to 2-16, and the hosts went back in front when Ciarán Clarke struck for their fourth goal.
With five minutes to go, the game remained in the melting pot, but when Ben Conroy’s mishit effort looped over the outstretched stick of O’Connell, Laois held a 3-22 to 4-16 lead and looked to have sealed victory.
Clarke brought his tally to 1-7 for the day to cut the gap to two points, and the McQuillans player capped a superb performance at his home pitch by converting a last-minute penalty to seal a memorable win for Antrim.
ANTRIM: C O’Connell; R McCambridge, N McAuley (0-1), A Graffin; S McCrory, C McKinley, J Dillon; N McManus (1-2), M Bradley (0-1); M Dudley, P Shiels (0-3, one free), E Campbell (0-1); C Clarke (2-7, 1-6 frees), D McClean, C Johnston (2-1). Subs: C Carson for D McClean (h-t), D Murphy (0-1) for M Dudley (h-t), T O Ciarain for E Campbell (52 mins). LAOIS: E Rowland; J Walsh, C Healy, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, C Dunne; Z Keenan (1-9, 1-8 frees), P Purcell (0-1); PJ Scully (0-3), P Whelan (0-1), C Dwyer (0-1); R King (0-3), W Hyland (0-3), T Fitzgerald (1-1). Subs: B Conroy (1-0) for R King (56 mins), J Campion for W Hyland (61 mins), D Palmer for PJ Scully (70 mins). Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow)