Antrim miss great chance to topple Clare

National Hurling League - Division 2Antrim 1-9 Clare 0-13ON a day of double disappointment for Saffron followers (the footballers ended their unbeaten run in Offaly) Antrim hurlers were narrowly beaten by Clare (0-13 to 1-9) in their Allianz NHL Division 2 game at Casement Park.

It was a highly frustrating defeat for Antrim for this was a game that they could, and probably should, have won had they have taken a fraction of the chances on offer.

The defence and midfield played superbly to restrict a highly rated Clare side to just thirteen points over the seventy minutes, but up front they failed to make any real inroads, though it has to be said that every player gave their utmost.

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The visitors opened with a quick point but Neil McManus gave Antrim hopes a real boost when he fired home a penalty after Conor McAllister had been fouled in the large 'square'.

McManus was the one real threat to the Clare defence, his strength under the high ball causing the Banner men problems, but they did recovered to edge ahead by 0-9 to 1-5 at half-time, McManus scoring 1-3 of that 1-5 total.

After the restart Antrim battled gallantly to claw back the deficit but in a low scoring half Clare continued to enjoy a slim lead and found a reply each time Antrim closed the gap.

The visitors were reduced to fourteen men after Fergal Lynch was given a straight red card for a foul on Karl McKeegan, a decision that appeared a bit harsh, but Antrim failed to capitalise, and though they had several chances to earn a share of the spoils Clare held on for the win and both league points.

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Overall a disappointing result, but after last week's poor performance against Laois most Antrim fans will be heartened by the spirit shown.

SCORERS -- Clare: C Ryan 0-5 (0-5f), B Nugent 0-3, D McMahon, F Lynch 0-2 each, S Collins 0-1. Antrim: N McManus 1-3 (1-0 pen), P Shiels 0-3, S McNaughton, C McFall, A Smylie 0-1 each.

CLARE -- P Brennan; P Vaughan, C Dillon, G O'Grady; B Bulger, J McInerney, P Donnellan; S Collins, A O'Brien; F Lynch, B Barrett, D McMahon; D Honan, A Markham, C Ryan. Subs: B Nugent for Honan (15), C O'Donovan for O'Brien (22), M Flaherty for Markham (47), M Murphy for Barrett (64), E Glynn for Donnellan (69).

ANTRIM -- G McGhee; A Graffin, C Donnelly, M Scullion; M McAuley, K McKeegan, C Herron; P Shiels, PJ O'Connell; S McCrory, N McManus, S McNaughton; B McFall, C McFall, C McAllister. Subs: A Smylie for McAllister (h-t), T McCann for Scullion (47), D Hamill for McCrory (53), S McKeague for B McFall (61), E McCloskey for O'Connell (68).

REF -- B Kelly (Westmeath).

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