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Antrim hurling manager Neal Peden disappointed by defeat to Westmeath

Simon McCrory of Antrim in action as Westmeath’s Aaron Craig prepares to challenge during Sunday's Allianz Hurling League Division 2A match at Corrigan Park Picture by Cliff Donaldson
From Anthony Gunning at Corrigan Park

Allianz Hurling League Division 2A: Antrim 1-15 Westmeath 1-17

ANTRIM'S promotion hopes were blown away at a windy Corrigan Park yesterday as Westmeath claimed the points and put one foot in the Division 2A final by grinding out a two-point victory.

There was no masking the disappointment from those in saffron after as they knew they would not be returning to 1B this time around, with their young guns failing to fire in attack – hitting just 1-3 from play over the

70-plus minutes.

Even the introduction of Cushendall's Neil McManus and Eoghan Campbell after the break couldn't get

Antrim's noses in front in this game and their manager, Neal Peden accepted that it will be 2A hurling at best in

2020.

“It's very disappointing for us,” he said.

“We came here with great expectations as it was a massive game to stand up and be counted in regards to the National Hurling League.

“We had chances to push on in the second half and we didn't. When we go back and look at the stats, those are the things we will be saying.

“Scoring 1-3 isn't good from play and that's what I meant about the second half because we had talked about taking long-range scores with the breeze and we should have been picking off more scores than we did.

“The last 10 minutes became the dogfight that National Hurling League can be.”

Antrim had a late penalty shout when Conor McCann was upended, but there was no award as they were forced to play catch-up in the second period.

A disastrous last 10 minutes of the opening period when a two-point lead turned into a six-point deficit left them with a lot to do, although they got back level fives minutes after the break, but never managed to get in front.

“Momentum was with us and that was our chance to step forward and take control,” Peden added.

“It didn't happen, so that's the disappointing thing we will look at and we need to find out why. With the forward line we have, once we got level we should have been pushing on.”

The result means Antrim will look at their final two games, away to Mayo and home to London, with the Joe McDonagh Cup in mind as they try to push on.

Victories in those games are far from certain, however, so results are still needed or the nightmare scenario of a relegation battle could unfold.

“We have a young panel and we only have people coming back into the team now,” Peden offered.

“The Joe McDonagh Cup is next for us, but we have two games now to build towards that.”

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