Dublin are through to this year’s Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland under-21 hurling final following a comfortable win over Antrim at Newry this afternoon.
Dublin were aiming to book their place in yet another final following the county’s minor hurlers already being in the All-Ireland decider where they will face Galway on the first Sunday in September. Hurling is on a massive high in the county at the moment and the Dubs know what it takes to reach a decider at this level.
For Antrim, they entered the match with nothing to lose as the Dubs were overwhelming favourites to advance to the final where they would face either Limerick or Galway in the decider. All the pressure was on Dublin and it was up to the Saffrons to make sure that they got off to a decent start.
When the action got underway, it was Dublin that were quickly off the mark and Mark Schutte scored a goal in the first minute to give them the perfect start and already Antrim faced an uphill struggle. The match was played in glorious sunshine, but the clouds were closing in on the Ulster side from early on.
The Leinster champions kept the pressure on and at the 20 minute mark they were 1-5 to 0-2 ahead as Schutte and Kevin O’Loughlin (3) were among the scorers. O’Loughlin fired over an exquisite line ball as Dublin began to play some outstanding hurling. Antrim’s two scores came from Michael Duggan and James Black, but they were struggling to stay in contention and the signs were ominous at this stage of the game.
The Ulster side were under pressure for long periods of the opening half and O’Loughlin tapped over another couple of frees, while Conor Gough also found the target as the Dubs led by 1-9 to 0-4 at half time.
Antrim wing back Michael Armstrong was in outstanding form and really tried hard to drive his side on, but they struggled to cope with Dublin’s movement and sharpness, which was very intense at times.
One of the main features of the first half was Dublin’s aerial ability and the amount of clean catches made were very impressive to say the least, but they were wasteful on front of goals and hit seven wides during the opening half.
The second half picked up where Dublin left off in the first and they started to find their range more regularly as Antrim’s challenge diminished greatly and the Dubs opened up a 26 point gap by the final whistle, with two more goals in the second half.
Sean McGrath scored the first of these and then Dean Curran, Eamon Dillon, Niall McMorrow, McGrath and O’Loughlin were among the second half point scorers. Substitute Ben Quinn came off the bench to score his side’s third goal as the Dubs go marching on.
Dublin – G McManus, B O’Carroll, D Kelly, J Doughan, D Curran 0-1, L Rushe,. M Quilty, C Gough 0-1, D Sutcliffe, D Plunkett 0-3, M Schutte 1-3, S McGrath 1-1, K O’Loughlin 0-7, N McMorrow 0-3, E Dillon 0-2. Subs – F Clabby for O’Carroll, T Connolly 0-1 for O’Loughlin, S O’Connor for Sufcliffe, O O Maoileidigh 0-1 for McGrath, B Quinn 1-0 for Rushe.
Antrim – E Gillan, T McAllister, K McKiernan, P McKeague, M Armstrong, N Cunningham, C Loughran, C Laverty, P McNaughton 0-1, J Black 0-1, M Devlin 0-1, T McCloskey, D McLean, C McCann 0-3, S Smyth. Subs – C Gillan for Devlin, A Downey for McKeague, B Curran for Laverty