New York 2-11
By Peter Nolan
New York’s Championship dreams were shattered for another year as the home team fell badly to Antrim, 5-19 to 2-11, at Gaelic Park on Sunday in the Ulster Senior Hurling semifinal.
Inclement weather conspired with the Memorial Day holiday weekend to keep the crowd a somewhat disappointing total of under 2,000. Antrim were at a loss before the match ever started as corner forward Brian McFall was unavailable, having been turned back by immigration at Dublin Airport on Thursday.
Aiden Mort was deputized to fill the vacancy in the Antrim attack, but it was the other corner forward, Aiden Delargy, who proved to be New York’s undoing. Delargy opened the scoring with a free at the four-minute mark, after a nervous start by both sides. The Cushendall dangerman followed 30 seconds later to stretch Antrim’s lead to a pair.
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Then New York made themselves known. Martin Finn floated in a goal with Kevin Kennedy crashing the net and putting off the keeper. The crowd roared its reaction and when Jonathan O’Callaghan drove over his own free, the exiles were leading 1-1 to 0-2 and feeling right at home.
Antrim’s response was immediate. Goalkeeper Damien Quinn’s puck-out following O’Callaghan’s point was well caught by midfielder Jim Connolly, who simply turned and struck for a textbook point.
New York, who had lost to Down at home in last year’s Championship, were already scrambling with midfielders Paddy Barry and John Madden switching assignments, but Connolly and partner Conor Cunning would continue to hold sway throughout the match.
Then Liam Watson set up DeLargy for Antrim’s first goal and New York’s lead was gone — and gone for good. But New York were not prepared to just roll over. Martin Finn gobbled up a loose ball and snapped over a sharp point. Owen Cummins and Paddy Barry then combined well to place Jonathan O’Callaghan for a fine equalizing point.
Cummins to this point was having a blinder, and despite some inaccurate free taking, the New York dual star was among the afternoon’s top performers. The deadlock didn’t last long, as Delargy’s 16th-minute goal signaled the beginning of the end for the Gotham squad.
Delargy got on the end of a very good sideline cut from Conor Cumming, leaving Dave Simms no chance in the New York goal. After a Delargy free, Cunning stepped up to another sideline ball and his perfectly struck cut was finished to the net by Liam Watson, the first of his 3-2. Antrim would extend their lead to 3-6 to 1-3 before O’Callaghan answered with a New York goal. In that 5-minute span, from Delargy’s 16th minute-goal to Liam Richmonds 21st-minute point, Antrim turned a draw match into a 3-6 to 1-3 blowout.
O’Callaghan’s goal gave the hosts hope, but once again Antrim had all the answers to New York’s challenge. Antrim added five more points to a solitary Bobby Ryan point for New York to go to the break comfortably ahead 3-11 to 2-4.
Sean Nolan, introduced by New York manager Kieran O’Sullivan in the 23rd minute, made an impact for the home team. The only Irish American on the field added a bit of bite to the New York forward line and his intelligent play was a plus for New York. The Yanks started well in the second half, trading points, while hunting for goals.
When a goal did come, though, it was for Antrim. Dave Simms saved a tough Paddy Richmond shot but couldn’t corral the rebound. Liam Watson was on the spot, slapping home a one-hander and stretching Antrim’s advantage to 4-15 to 2-8, a 13-point bulge.
Watson added another goal on a free with 12 minutes remaining. With Antrim leading 4-16 to 2-9, Watson elected to go for an unnecessary goal, calling his sportmanship into question. New York manager Kieran O’Sullivan was a bit surprised by how good Antrim were.
“They were beaten by Laois and had a bad loss to Waterford, so we thought we were right there with them,” he said.
That obviously wasn’t the case and O’Sullivan conceded that the “better team won, we were in it for 20 to 25 minutes, but overall they were younger, sharper and fitter than us.”
Man of the Match: Aiden Delargy
Antrim: Damien Quinn, Michael Kettle, Kieran Kelly, Eoin McCloskey, Karl McKeegan, Ronan Donnelly, Ciaran Herron, Conor Cunning (0-1), Jim Connolly (0-2), Liam Watson (3-2), Gregory O’Kane (0-2), Liam Richmond (0-2), Aiden Delargy. (2-7), Paddy Richmond (0-2), Aiden Mort Subs: Johnny Campbell, Michael McCambridge, Colm McGuckian, Sean Delargy (0-1).
New York: David Simms, Seamus Pender, Peter Dalton, Sean Quirke, Donal Fitzgibbon, Owen Cummins (0-2), Tadgh O’Callaghan, Paddy Barry, John Madden (0-1), Mike Kennedy, Bobby Ryan (0-1), Jonathan O’Callaghan (1-2), Kevin Kennedy (0-1), Martin Finn (1-2), Tom Simms (0-1). Subs: Sean Nolan (0-1), Kevin McKay, Fenton O’Shea, Roy Henley.