Ulster U21 HC: Antrim and Derry advance to the final

July 17, 2013

Antrim captain Conor McCann with the Ulster U21 HC Cup
Antrim and Derry both enjoyed three-point victories in their semi-finals tonight.

At Casement Park, the Saffrons had a strong third quarter to thank for their 1-17 to 1-14 victory over Down.

The Ardsmen led by 1-8 to 0-10 at the interval, with top scorer Danny Toner helping himself to 1-4 inside the opening 15 minutes.

Antrim moved ahead with two quick points at the start of the second half and they kicked on with determination to quickly lead by six points, 1-14 to 1-8, thanks to a Conor McCann goal.

At the three-quarters mark,, the margin was seven points: 1-16 to 1-9. But Antrim lost their way in the last quarter, going more than 15 minutes without a score while the visitors added five points to their tally to close within two, 1-16 to 1-14, with as many minutes left.

The winners managed to tag on one more point and survived a fright at the death as Down came agonisingly close to snatching a late, late goal.

And at Owenbeg, Derry were also sweating in the closing stages (not just because of the heat!) before coming away with a 2-13 to 1-13 victory over Armagh.

Tiarnan McCloskey was on target five times as the hosts led by 1-6 to 0-2 after 16 minutes, with corner forward O'Dwyer registering Derry's first goal.

Armagh came back into contention with three points but Niall Ferris was on hand to make it double scores, 1-7 to 0-5, with four minutes left in the first half.

Ferris added a second Oak Leaf goal two minutes from the break and the winners led by 2-7 to 0-6 at the short whistle.

When the visitors closed the gap to three points after the restart, two McCloskey frees and an O'Dwyer point made it 2-11 to 0-11 after 48 minutes.

There was high drama when the Orchard County found the net with a minute left to make it a two-point game, 2-12 to 1-13. But Derry held on to book a final date with neighbour Antrim.

Antrim - G Dixon; T O Ciarain, C Johnson, T Coyle; C McGuinness, P McNaughton, D Kearney; J McGreevy (0-1), E Campbell (0-1); P Nugent, S Beatty (0-2), D McKiernan (0-1); C Johnson (0-3), C McCann (1-0), C Clarke (0-8). Subs: S McAfee (0-1) for P Nugent, S Dooey for D McKiernan.

Down - S Savage; M Conlon, R Brannigan, M McCullough; C Flynn, B Nicholson, J McGrath (0-1); J McManus, L McMullan; C O Neill, A Smyth, C Egan (0-1); D Toner (1-11), M Nicholson (0-1), P Mason. Subs: E Sands for P Mason, C Taggart for L McMullan.

Referee: B Sweeney (Cavan)

Derry - C O Kane; N McCallion, C McGurk, E Crossan; C Lynch, B Og McGilligan, R Farren; E Cassidy, L Murphy; B Rodgers (0-1), D McAlary, T McCloskey (0-8); J O Dwyer (1-1), A Armstrong (0-1), N Ferris (1-1). Subs: D Mullan for D McAlary, T Hendry (0-1) for J O Dwyer.

Armagh - S Doherty; L Woods, F Corvan, R Magee; T Marley, J King, C McKee; S Keenan, O Curry; R Fullerton (0-1), S Gaffney (0-1), G McKeown (0-2); M Lennon (1-6), P Heaney (0-2), D McGee. Subs: P Lappin for O Curry, C McAnallen for P Heaney, C McNally for S Keenan.

Referee: C Cunning (Armagh)

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