Galway overcome 14-man Antrim in Leinster SHC encounter

Saffrons forward Nigel Elliott in possession against Galway at Corrigan Park
Saffrons forward Nigel Elliott in possession against Galway at Corrigan Park [Inpho]

GALWAY responded well in the second half to stave off the threat off a shock at Corrigan Park as they pulled away from 14-man Antrim for a 2-25 to 1-14 win in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship.

A red card for Ryan McGarry three minutes into the second period was undoubtedly the turning point as the hosts had led by one at the break and an upset seemed to be on the cards.

However, the dismissal of the Dunloy man proved a setback Antrim couldn't recover from as a penalty goal from Conor Cooney six minutes later was another body blow that ultimately saw their challenge fade away.

Both sides looked jittery from the off but there was a sense Galway were beginning to settle with Conor Cooney, Evan Niland and Conor Whelan all on target as they led 0-4 to 0-2 before they rattled the net on 10 minutes as Seán Linnane played a great ball into the stride of Gavin Lee, who buried.

Cooney added a point but Antrim, who were now settling themselves, began to sense all was not right with the visitors and began to get on top around the middle with Keelan Molloy and James McNaughton finding their range and then Michael Bradley cracking over the equaliser.

Padraic Mannion ended a barren 10 minutes for the Tribesmen but Antrim were beginning to really fancy it and after McNaughton levelled from a free, they got the goal they deserved 29 minutes in as late replacement Rian McMullan played in Conal Bohill and he found the corner of the net.

Galway's Gavin Lee comes under pressure during Saturday's game in Belfast
Galway's Gavin Lee comes under pressure during Saturday's game in Belfast [Inpho]

Galway temporarily came to life with scores from Niland and Whelan - the second after Ryan Elliott had made a vital interception - but Antrim, who were guilty of eight wides and five shots short in thew opening period, extended the gap with Gerard Walsh landing a long free and then clipping over a sideline.

They almost had another goal as a McNaughton free dropped and Darach Fahy fumbled - he was lucky to rescue the ball in the nick of time despite Antrim protests that a green flag should have been raised. However, late scores through Tom Monaghan and Niland narrowed the gap to one as Antrim led 1-11 to 1-10.

It was all set up for a storming second half but then came the red card for McGarry, who made a clumsy high challenge on Whelan that was deemed a red card offence and Niland pointed the free to level.

Initially, Antrim seemed to shrug it off as Molloy burst in on goal but was hooked at the vital moment with his subsequent pull back flashing away from danger, but Galway would then grab the lead through Linnane and keep it with Cooney's goal from a penalty minutes later giving the visitors a little breathing space.

With a man light Antrim lacked options in attack as Galway gradually pulled away with a decent spread of scorers while Antrim just had three McNaughton points to show for their efforts.

Galway seemed to be keen on further goals but couldn't manage it, although Whelan, Daithí Burke and the returning Jonathan Glynn clipped over some fine points with Donal O'Shea having the final word.