Galway shrug off difficult opening half to power past 14-man Antrim

Ryan McGarry’s red card three minutes into the second half proves to be a turning point as Antrim fail to match first-half intensity

Leinster SHC: Antrim 1-14 Galway 2-25

Galway recovered from a tough first half to stave off the threat of a shock at Corrigan Park as they pulled away from 14-man Antrim for victory in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship.

Ryan McGarry’s red card three minutes into the second half proved the turning point as the hosts couldn’t reach the same levels they did in the opening half when a shock didn’t just look possible, but likely.

At that stage, the Saffrons held a one-point advantage they took into half-time and one they were full value for, but the numerical disadvantage proved a blow they couldn’t recover from as the Tribesmen put their defeat to Wexford a fortnight ago behind them.

“Coming up this morning, it was about that and we saw what happened here a couple of weeks ago with Wexford, so we were prepared,” said Galway manager Henry Shefflin.


“We started the match well but Antrim came into it as we expected and probably got a foothold. I was happy we stemmed the tide coming up to half-time and were in a good position to kick on in the second half. Today was about getting two points and we got that done.”

That loss seemed to be hanging over them in Belfast as they failed to fire in the opening half, but then much of that was down to Antrim’s efforts.

Both sides looked jittery from the off but there was a sense Galway were beginning to settle with Conor Cooney, Evan Niland and Conor Whelan all on target as they led 0-4 to 0-2 before they rattled the net on 10 minutes. Seán Linnane played a great ball into the stride of Gavin Lee who buried the chance.

Cooney added a point, but Antrim, who were now settling themselves with Keelan Molloy and James McNaughton finding their range and then Michael Bradley cracking over the equaliser.

Padraic Mannion ended a barren 10 minutes for the Tribesmen, but Antrim were beginning to really fancy it and after McNaughton levelled from a free, they got the goal they deserved 29 minutes in as late replacement Rian McMullan played in Conal Bohill who found the corner of the net.

Galway temporarily came to life with scores from Niland and Whelan – the second after Ryan Elliott had made a vital interception – but Antrim, who were guilty of eight wides and five shots dropping short in the opening period, extended the gap with Gerard Walsh landing a long free and then clipping over a sideline.

They almost had another goal as a McNaughton free dropped and Darach Fahy fumbled and was lucky to rescue the ball in the nick of time despite Antrim protests a green flag should have been raised. Late scores through Tom Monaghan and Niland narrowed the gap to one as Antrim led 1-11 to 1-10.

It was all set up for a storming second half but then came the red card for McGarry who made a clumsy high challenge on Whelan that was deemed a red card offence and Niland pointed the free to level.

Initially, Antrim seemed to shrug it off as Keelan Molloy burst in on goal but was hooked at the vital moment with his subsequent pull back flashing away from danger, but Galway would then grab the lead through Linnane and keep it with Cooney’s goal from a penalty minutes later giving the visitors a little breathing space.

A man light, Antrim lacked options in attack as Galway gradually pulled away with a decent spread of scorers as Antrim just had three James McNaughton points to show for their efforts.

Galway seemed to be keen on further goals but couldn’t manage it, although Connor Whelan, Daithí Burke and the returning Jonathan Glynn clipped over some fine points with Donal O’Shea having the final word.

Antrim: R Elliott; C Boyd, N O’Connor, P Burke; G Walsh (0-2, one free, one sideline), R McGarry, C Bohill (1-0); E Campbell, K Molloy (0-3); N Elliott, M Bradley (0-1), N McKenna; R McMullan, S Elliott, J McNaughton (0-8, six frees). Subs: S Walsh for E Campbell (24 mins), R McCloskey for R McMullan (48), C McCann for C Bohill (51), F McCurry for M Bradley (55), P Boyle for N McKenna (66).

Galway: D Fahy; J Grealish, Daithí Buurke (0-1), F Burke; S Linnane (0-2), P Mannion (0-1), C Fahy (0-1); David Burke (0-1), R Glennon; G Lee (1-0), T Monaghan (0-1), J Cooney (0-1); C Whelan (0-3), C Cooney (1-6, one penalty, three frees, one 65), E Niland (0-5, three frees). Subs: D McLoughlin for C Whelan (38-42 mins), D McLoughlin for E Niland (52), A Tuohey for R Glennon (55), J Ryan for J Cooney (58), D O’Shea (0-2) for David Burke (58), J Glynn for J Ryan (61), J Flynn (0-1) for G Lee (66)

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).