Antrim and Down set up McGurk Cup last-four clash

Antrim’s never-say-die attitude helped them overcome Ulster University

Down's Sean O'Neill and Louth's Sean Hodgins in action during Saturday's McGurk Cup quarter-final at St Patrick's Grammar School, Downpatrick PICTURE: Philip Walsh

Conor McGurk Cup quarter-finals: Antrim 3-13 Ulster University 1-13; Down 2-22 Louth 3-18; Fermanagh 0-29 Queen’s University 1-18

ANTRIM’S never-say-die attitude helped them overcome Ulster University on Saturday and progress to a McGurk Cup semi-final. The Saffron U20s had trailed by five at half-time to the students at Jordanstown but managed to turn that around in the second period to set up a last-four clash with Down, set for Tuesday night.

UU were quickest out of the traps, hitting five unanswered points off the sticks of Pádraig Doran (2), Feargal McKiernan Conal Shannon and Ryan Mort inside the opening 10 minutes.

A long-range free from Criostaí McAuley helped to settle Antrim and their confidence began to grow as Darragh Patterson added two and Diarmuid Rogan got one to cut the gap back to a single point.

When McAuley bundled home a major to put the Saffrons in front for the first time, UU looked to be wobbling, but a string of fine points from Lorcan Donnelly and a goal of their own saw the students go in at the break with a 1-9 to 1-4 advantage.

Antrim were a different proposition after the break, however, and two quick-fire goals from Aodhán McGarry and Niall McGarrel and a well-taken point by McGarry turned the tables on UU.

Even the dismissal of Darragh Patterson couldn’t knock Antrim out of the stride they had gotten themselves into, and a series of fine points from McAuley (2), Rogan and McGarel gave them a bit of breathing space.

Jordanstown fought hard to get back into contention, with Donnelly and Michael Rice converting points, but late efforts from McAuley and Darragh Donnelly eased Antrim over the line and into Tuesday’s semi-final.

The Ards men booked their own place in that tie with a narrow victory over Louth in Downpatrick. Louth led the hosts at half-time at St Patrick’s Grammar, but the introduction of Oisín McManus (0-6) and goals from Donal Hughes and Dáithí Sands proved just about enough to turn the game in Down’s direction.

Fermanagh will take on Donegal in Tuesday’s other semi-final after they dismissed Queen’s by eight points at the Dub.

Venues for Tuesday night’s games (7.30pm throw-in) are still to be confirmed.