Kildare minors survive Antrim onslaught to open championship campaign with a win

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Kildare minors survive Antrim onslaught to open championship campaign with a win
By Patrick Ward 15:00 Saturday 12th of May 2018

Kildare     2-17

Antrim     4-7

Leinster MHC Tier 2 round one

Kildare opened their Leinster Minor Hurling Championship campaign with an impressive come from behind win over Antrim on Saturday afternoon in Newbridge.

The Lilywhites trailed by five points at one stage but managed to hang on despite the destruction that Antrim full-forward Conaill Bohill caused them in the opening half, as the visitors plundered four goals to really rattle Kildare. The nerve and lasting power that Cathal Fenton’s side showed was impressive as they ground down their opponents to secure victory with four points to spare in the end.

Antrim hardly played any expressive, extravagant hurling in the first half, but what they did do was work to a tactic that provided them with four goals of near identical nature.

Bohill was an absolute menace at full-forward, and aside from scoring the Saffrons’ first goal, he created the other three and also landed half of their first half points.

Kildare began brightly with scores from Muiris Curtin – a county minor footballer also – and Daragh Melville, but Bohill bagged his first goal following a long ball into the square. Ferran O’Sullivan hit back with a goal for the home side when he stroked in the rebound of his own shot, and Shane White stroked over a point, leaving Kildare with a 1-3 to 1-0 lead after 10 minutes. Bohill caused chaos again in the 12th minute when breaking the ball down to Caolan O’Connor to find the net, and while Conan Boran and Cathal McCabe hit scores for Kildare, Eoin McGrath raised another green flag at the other end to push Antrim into a 3-0 to 1-5 lead.

The visitors dominated the rest of the first half as Ryan McFarlane and Bohill notched their first points of the day after the 26th minute, while Bohill’s breakdown to Michael McGarry set up his fellow inside forward to hit the net three minutes before the half-time whistle.

Shane Whyte’s point kept Kildare in touch, but only just, as they trailed by 4-2 to 1-6 at the turnaround.

Kildare flew out of the traps at the beginning of the second half, immediately setting about overturning the deficit as they attacked from all angles. An early free from Curtin was followed by points from Dermot Hanafin and Harry Dunne, before Curtin landed another from a placed ball to cut the gap to one.

The game became a real tit for tat affair after that as both sides picked off scores, though Antrim always managed to keep their noses in front. Niall O’Connor knocked over a couple of points in quick succession either side of a Sean Whyte score, while substitute Dannan McKeogh also hit the target for the Saffrons. McCabe launched over a brilliant effort for Kildare, but a pointed Bohill free put Antrim into a 4-6 to 1-13 lead with 10 minutes left to play.

The Lilywhites’ big break came in the 52nd minute when substitute Michael McGovern got in behind the Antrim defence and smashed the ball to the back of the net, and three converted frees from Curtin put Kildare four clear going into the closing stages.

McKeogh and McGovern swapped points before the end, but Kildare managed to see the game out comfortably as their defence stood up to the Antrim onslaught to secure the win.

Scorers for Kildare: M Curtin 0-7f, M McGovern 1-1, F O’Sullivan 1-0, S Whyte 0-3, C McCabe 0-2, C Boran, H Dunne, D Melville and D Hanafin 0-1 each.

Scorers for Antrim: C Bohill 1-2(2f), M McGarry, E McGrath and C O’Connor 1-0 each, N O’Connor and D McKeogh 0-2 each, R McFarlane 0-1 each.

Kildare

Sean Burke; Daniel Murray, John McKeown, Cian Shanahan; Ben Noone, Eoghan Dempsey, Drew Costello; Harry Dunne, Conan Boran; Muiris Curtin, Shane Whyte; Daragh Melville, Cathal McCabe, Ferran O’Sullivan.

Subs used: Matthew Eustace for McKeown 26mins, Jack Cleary for Dempsey 32mins, Michael McGovern 43mins, Jack Higgins for Melville 50mins.

Antrim

Kevin McAuley; Declan McCloskey, Anthony Gallagher, Ciaran McQuillan; Daire Stevenson, Cormac Donnelly, Caolan McKernan; Shane O’Boyle, Niall O’Connor; John McAllister, Ryan McFarlane, Caolan O’Connor; Eoin McGrath, Conaill Bohill, Michael McGarry.

Subs used: Ryan Hill for McFarlane 38mins, Dannan McKeogh for McGarry 41mins, Ronan Crossan for McGrath 46mins.

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