Hurling and camogie

Antrim's flying start helps them easily overcome Down hurlers in Ballycran

Antrim's Joe Maskey closes down Down's John McManus during the Joe McDonagh Cup round two game at Ballycran.
Pic Philip Walsh
Kenny Archer at McKenna Park, Ballycran

Joe McDonagh Cup, round two: Down 3-16 Antrim 6-22

ANTRIM selector Johnny Campbell may have been shown a yellow card in added time for coming onto the pitch but this was not a classic heated Ulster clash to match the weather.

It wasn't quite a stroll in the sunshine for the Saffrons but the game was effectively over inside the opening quarter hour, with the visitors netting the first two of an eventual six goals, a bright beginning which delighted Loughgiel man Campbell:

"It was the perfect start. We gave Down the greatest respect coming here, but it was about us and how we played - 1-1 after a couple of minutes was perfect for us… The longer you're in a game here it gets more and more difficult…"

Antrim added to Ciaran Clarke's nine-second opener with a second goal by Seaan Elliott in the 12th minute, and both goaled again, joined in the 'major league' by Conor Johnston and Domhnall Nugent.

The Saffrons' speed of thought and movement pleased Campbell, who noted: "You want players running hard, you want the ball moved fast to create space, and so far we're doing that - long may it continue."

Antrim's physical superiority over Down was evident, but that's about effort as well as genetics, insisted Campbell: "The last couple of years, since Darren [Gleeson] has come in, the lads have done the gym work and turned themselves into real athletes. There's still work to be done there."

Down boss Ronan Sheehan said the sudden throw-in had caught his team off-guard, and queried the black card which led to Antrim's third goal from a penalty, but acknowledged:

"Antrim were full value for their win, and illustrated why they're in Division One for three years - there is a bit of a gap, a bit of a difference, in the speed of hurling and in the physicality in particular."

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Hurling and camogie