It went right down to the last puck of the game in Corrigan Park on Sunday afternoon as Pat Gilroy’s Dublin hurlers grabbed their first Allianz National Hurling League points against Antrim.
After last weeks poor showing against Offaly in Croke Park Dublin needed to take something from yesterday’s game with an away trip to Limerick and a home tie against Galway to follow.
Donal Burke scored the first point of game yesterday but Gilroys charges found themselves three adrift inside the opening ten minutes thanks to the free taking of Antrim’s Neil McManus.
Points from Fergal Whitely and Burke with his second of the game reduced the deficit. Antrim stretched their lead back out to two with another McManus converted free.
It was back to the bare minimum again in the 14th minute as Conal Keaney set up Paul Ryan to score a nice point. Antrim again hit back to go two in front again, but the sides were level by the 18th minute thanks to a Dónal Burke converted free and a successful 65’ scored by Paul Ryan.
The sides swapped points on two occasions as the game ebbed and flowed from one end of the pitch to the other.
But Dublin finished the half on the up and points from Danny Sutcliffe with a pair, two Paul Ryan frees and a point apiece from Conal Keaney and Cian McBride seen Gilroys men head into the dressing rooms with a six point lead with the score 0-14 to 0-08.
That lead was increased to seven points inside the opening minute of the second half when Paul Ryan slotted over a Free for a foul on Eamonn Dillon.
Antrim responded with the next four points which including a fine point from play by Aaron Graffan and some more metronomic free taking from McManus to leave just a goal between the sides.
Dublin responded in kind with four in a row of their own from Donal Burke, a Paul Ryan converted free, a brilliant long range effort from Cian McBride and a fine effort from Fergal Whitely.
It came right down to the last puck of the game, but the Dubs came out on top! 💙 Commiserations to Antrim, a great battle. Thanks to all the fans that came up to support the boys in blue, safe home! ✋ #UpTheDubs pic.twitter.com/Hx4m0wmAXu
— Dublin GAA (@DubGAAOfficial) February 4, 2018
James McNaughton pulled one back for Antrim and Gilroy introduced Liam Rushe back fully fit from a recent injury for Paul Ryan.
A converted free from McManus and a point from Graffin reduced the Dublin Lead to five. Donal Ryan back on Free duties after Ryan’s substitution pushed the boys in blue lead back out to six.
The teams swapped a couple of points each and as the game headed into the final ten minutes Dublin led by five.
But Antrim weren’t going down without a fight and with a minute left on the clock had reduced the deficit to the bare minimum with points from Daniel McCloskey and a couple of 65’ from McManus.
As the game entered into the four minutes of injury time, Donal Burke had the chance to put Dublin two in front from a Free for a foul on Liam Rushe but he pulled his effort wide.
It looked like a costly miss when seconds later when the ever accurate McManus drew Antrim level with a free from inside his own half.
But there was just enough time for Rushe to win another free and this time Burke held his nerve and slotted the ball over the bar to claim a vital victory for Dublin.
Dublin Scorers: P Ryan 0-8 (0-6f, 0-1 ’65’), D Burke 0-7 (0-4f), F Whitely, C Keaney, C McBride 0-2 each, J Madden, D Sutcliffe 0-1 each.
Antrim Scorers: N McManus 0-16(0-11f, 0-2’65’), A Graffin, J McNaughton 0-2 each, G Walsh, D McCloskey 0-1 each.
A Nolan; P Smyth, B O’Carroll, E O’Donnell; S Barrett, C Crummey, J Madden; C McBride, T Connolly; D Burke, F Whitely, D Sutcliffe; C Keaney, E Dillon, P Ryan.
Dublin Substitutions :
L Rushe for Ryan (51), J McCaffrey for McBride (53), N McMorrow for Connolly (64), P Winters for Dillon (69).
C O’Connell; P Burke, J Dillon, A Graffin; J Maskey, M Donnelly, D Kearney; C McKinley, G Walsh; N Elliott, N McManus, J Connolly; D McKinley, C McCann, C Johnston.
C Carson for Connolly (inj 8), N McAuley for Maskey (43), J McNaughton for Walsh (45), R McCambridge for McCann (53), D McCloskey for Elliott (63).
Referee: J Heffernan (Wexford).