Carlow victory condemns Antrim to Christy Ring Cup
‘We are devastated. We created a lot of chances but did not take them’
Antrim’s defeat sends them down to the Christy Ring Cup. Photo: Inpho
Carlow 2-18 Antrim 1-11
Carlow hurlers reserved their best championship display of the Round Robin Leinster SHC series on Sunday by inflicting a 10 point defeat on visitors Antrim at Netwatch Cullen Park. This win means the Barrowsiders retain their McCarthy Cup status for 2016 while condemning Antrim to the Christy Ring Cup.
Both sides were reduced to 13 men while there was an 11 minute hold-up for an injury to Antrim left full back Ryan McCambridge just on the hour mark. McCambridge suffered concussion following a clash with Carlow’s Edwrd Coady and an ambulance was brought unto the pitch to convey the Antrim player to hospital. Coady was issued with a straight red card.
But overall this was by no means a dirty game.
Conor Johnson 10th minute goal put Antrim 1-2 to 0-1 ahead and they looked the more likely side early on. Carlow’s cause was further damaged when top forward Marty Kavanagh received a straight red card in the 22nd minute for a striking offence. But strangely Carlow then took command, hitting a string of points, Antrim’s only further score a pointed free by Conor Johnston.
Carlow led 0-8 to 1-3 at half time and a shrewd home switch which Eddie Byrne from centre forward to full forward paid handsome dividends, Byrne causing major problems for the Antrim defence. The outstanding Seán Murphy burned the Antrim defence with his pace, ably assisted in attack by John Michael Nolan and free-taker Paul Coady. Further back Alan Corcoran, Shane Kavanagh and David English cut off all approaches to their goal while industrious midfielder Jack Kavanagh scored two superb second half points.
Murphy set up Paul Coady for a 51 minute goal as Carlow led 1-14 to 1-6 and with Antrim losing midfielder Ciaran Johnston to a second yellow card and Simon McCrory to a straight red there was no way back for Kevin Ryan’s men.
Seán Murphy shot a late goal to finish the scoring.
Carlow boss Pat English enthused: “We are back in the Leinster championship.” His players had done what they had to do on the day - win the game. Pat said the players took on board the seriousness of the situation, remarking “We had to win and we did.”
Kevin Ryan, former Carlow manager, said: “We are devastated. We created a lot of chances but did not take them. It was possible to hope when trailing by five of six points “but when it goes to eight or nine you need goals and we did not look like getting them.”
There was no denying the merit of this Carlow win. They really came good in the second half, pulling away from Antrim with some well-taken scores and while their opponents fought to the end there was just no way that Carlow were going to wilt in a game with so much at stake.
Antrim had some very fine players in Tomás McCann, Ciarán Johnston, the hugely influential Conor Carson, Ciarán Clarke and Conor Johnston but now find themselves relegated from hurling’s top tier depite beating Laois in their opening Round Robin game in Ballycastle.
Carlow: K Kehoe; S Kavanagh, J Rogers, A Corcoran; R Coady, D English, E Coady; D Byrne, J Kavanagh (0-2); Seán Murphy (1-1), E Byrne (0-2), J M Nolan (0-3); Seamus Murphy, M Kavanagh (0-2, frees), P Coady (1-7, 0-5 frees). Subs: M Brennan (0-1) for Seamus Murphy (36); G Coady for Nolan (58).
Antrim: C O’Connell; O McFadden (0-1), J Dillon, R McCambridge; S McCrory, T McCann, C McKinley; C Johnston, N McAuley; P Shiels (0-1, 65), C Carson, D McKernan; C Clarke (0-3, 0-2 frees), C McCann (0-1), C Johnston (1-4, 0-3 frees). Subs: M Bradley (0-1) for Shiels (h/t); M Donnelly for McAuley (h/t); E Campbell for McKernan (51); C Ross for McCambridge (injured) (59).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).