Hurling & Camogie

'We're digging into it all the time': Gleeson left frustrated as Antrim come up short again

Antrim midfielder Michael Bradley gets to grips with Dublin's Aidan Mellett at Parnell Park. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Antrim midfielder Michael Bradley gets to grips with Dublin's Aidan Mellett at Parnell Park. Picture by Seamus Loughran Antrim midfielder Michael Bradley gets to grips with Dublin's Aidan Mellett at Parnell Park. Picture by Seamus Loughran

Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B: Dublin 0-28 Antrim 2-19

FOR the second week in-a-row, Darren Gleeson was left to front up following an afternoon of frustration – and the Tipperary man wasn’t in the mood to sugar-coat another spirited second half fightback as Antrim’s Dublin hoodoo rolled on.

Parnell Park has not been a happy hunting ground for the Saffrons in recent years, and the Dubs rubbed salt in the wound of opening-day defeat to Kilkenny by holding on to claim both Division 1B points.

It could have been so different, but then how many times has that been said?

Having trailed by 10 in the early stages of the second half, two Keelan Molloy goals brought Antrim right back into it, while Neil McManus smashed one effort off the crossbar and saw another brilliantly saved by Dublin ’keeper Eddie Gibbons.

But, just as against the Cats, the damage was done in the first half – and Gleeson was taking little solace from how his side performed late on.

“It would be the easy out to focus on the last 20 minutes, but what happened in the preceding 50 wasn't up to what we were looking for,” he said.

“We had no real intensity, didn't lay a glove on them physically in the middle section of the field… you can't play at this level with six or seven balls short to the goalkeeper - it's like giving it to a quarterback now.

“He feeds it out and we're on the back foot straight away as we're out of shape. Throw 14 or 15 wides on top of that, goal chances…

“The heart part at the end was good with the guys showing a bit of pride, but the scoreboard is all that matters.”

Such circumstances are not exclusive to this League campaign either as the Saffrons bid to kick on in their third season in Division One.

Next up is a trip to Dungarvan in a fortnight to face Waterford, who proved too hot to handle for Laois on Saturday night after an opening day draw with Dublin.

Gleeson was at a loss to explain why Antrim had left themselves so much to do again, and is well aware of the size of the challenge posed by Davy Fitzgerald’s Deise.

“I'd love to know,” he said with a sigh, “we're digging into it all the time, but we just have to stay at it.

“It's an area we really need to pick up on and what happens where we get big scores in a game.

We got a goal that tightened in and put the nerves on there, bringing it back to six but then you give away the next two points - straight away their number 12 [Cian Boland] is standing on his own.

“It's reset mentality, but playing at the highest level you have to learn quick. I look at it one game at a time but that's homework for us.

“It will be a big test for us down in Dungarvan. They have a stellar team, but this is what we want to be doing. We'd rather test ourselves against that than not.”

Dublin boss Micheal Donoghue, meanwhile, was happy to survive that late Antrim onslaught as their attention turns to a next outing against Tipperary.

“We showed a bit of resilience to get over the line,” said the Galway man, who led his native county to the 2017 All-Ireland crown.

“You’re not going to dominate a game for 70 minutes. When the opposition get it, maybe that’s an area we can work on, but in fairness to the lads, they put themselves in that position and ultimately we got the two points.”