Kilkenny 1-28, Antrim 3-15
There were ups and downs and bumps in the road, but hard going Kilkenny negotiated all the trials and tribulations to claim their second victory in the Allianz National Hurling League.
The Cats beat surprise packet Antrim in UPMC Nowlan Park today, Sunday, to register their second win in the series and set up a mouth-watering clash with fierce rivals, Wexford, at the same venue next Sunday.
During the opening period the all running, all passing Cats played some decent hurling at times. They hit half-time leading by 1-11 to 0-6.
The score flattered somewhat. In fairness, Antrim might have scored two goals during that period. They were prevented from doing so by brilliant goalkeeper, Darren Brennan.
BRAVE BRENNAN’S SUPER PENALTY SAVE
The St Lachtain’s (Freshford) goalkeeper first saved a whistling shot from Conal Cunning in the 15th minute to preserve a Kilkenny lead of 0-6 to 0-2.
Then on 32 minutes Brennan stopped a well struck penalty from Ciarán Clarke to keep the visitors down again.
The penalty was awarded after home defender Conor Browne fouled Keelan Molloy, and along with being shown a yellow card, the James Stephens man had to spend 10 minutes in the ‘sin bin’.
After the scares, Kilkenny got to the break with eight points in front.
When the Noresiders resumed with an early point from a free by Alan Murphy, everything seemed to be going to plan.
Then Antrim exploded.
BLISTERING SPELL TURNS BACK TIME
The visitors shot 2-4 during a blistering eight minute spell. Conal Cunning and Clarke grabbed the goals in the 42nd and 43rd minutes as Antrim drew level at 1-13 to 2-10.
Thoughts of a repeat of their victory over Clare the previous week hung in the air.
Kilkenny hung tough.
They reeled off eight points in-a-row by Murphy (3), the returned Conor Browne, Martin Keoghan, James Bergin, Adrian Mullen and Richie Reid to grab back the initiative.
With 16 minutes remaining and Kilkenny showing 1-21 to 2-10 in front, it was all but game over.
The visitors huffed and puffed and were full of intent from there to the finish, but their willing spirit wasn’t enough to save the day.
SCORERS: Kilkenny – A. Murphy (0-13, nine frees); J. Bergin (0-4); E. Cody (1-1); A. Mullan (0-3); M. Keoghan, C. Browne (0-2 each); P. Deegan, R. Reid, J. Donnelly (0-1 each). Antrim – J. McNaughton (0-6, two frees); C. Clarke (1-3, points frees); C. Cunning (1-1); N. McManus (1-0); Conor McCann (0-2); G. Walsh, N. McKenna, M. Bradley(0-1 each).
Kilkenny – D. Brennan; T. Walsh, H. Lawlor, P. Deegan; D. Blanchfield, P. Walsh, C. Browne; R. Reid, C. Buckley; L. Blanchfield, E. Cody, M. Keoghan; J. Bergin, A. Mullen, A. Murphy. Subs – J. Donnelly for L. Blanchfield ht; J. Holden for Deegan 45th min; C. Fogarty for R. Reid 55th min; T. O’Dwyer for Bergin 60th min; M. Carey for Buckley 66th min.
Antrim – R. Elliott; D. McMullan, G. Walsh, S. Rooney; E. Campbell, P. Burke, J. Maskey; K. Molloy, N. McManus; N. McKenna, J. McNaughton, M. Bradley; C. Cunning, C. McCann, C. Clarke. Subs – E. O’Neill for N. McKenna 48th min; C. Johnston for C. Cunning 52nd min; D. Nugent for K. Molloy 52nd min; P. Duffin for D. McMullan 54th min; D.McCluskey for C. McCann 62nd min; S. Shannon for C. Clarke 65th min.
Referee – S. Stack (Dublin)