Antrim beat Armagh in Ulster Under-21 hurling final

Armagh's Dean Nugent in action against Antrim captain Conor McCann
Armagh's Dean Nugent in action against Antrim captain Conor McCann

Antrim won the Ulster Under-21 Hurling Championship for the third year in a row by beating Armagh 0-15 to 2-7 at Casement Park on Wednesday night.

Late points from Conor McCann and Neil Cunningham denied Armagh the chance of a first provincial title at this level.

Armagh had established an encouraging a 1-4 to 0-2 lead by the 19th minute, thanks to a Conor Corvan goal.

Antrim were much stronger in the second half and their skipper Conor McCann ended with six points, four from frees.

Armagh had looked far sharper throughout the opening half, with full-forward Corvan most dangerous.

Corvan bagged all of his sides scores in the opening 13 minutes, including a 12th minute goal after brushing past full-back Adrian Downey.

Armagh were on top in midfield and raced into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead by the 19th minute, with Martin Maguire and Corvan adding scores.

Antrim battled back before half-time claiming three of the last four points, but Armagh led by 1-5 to 0-5 at the break.

The young Saffrons were fired up on the restart, with points from McCann and Stephen Smyth cutting the deficit to the minimum in the 34th minute.

Dinny Cahill's charges continued to cause the Armagh defence huge problems, with Dessie McLean feeding Conor Laverty for a goal chance two minutes later, but Armagh keeper Simon Doherty pulled off a superb save.

A brace of Tony McCloskey points drew the sides level at 0-9 to 1-6 as the game entered the final quarter.

The hosts continued to show great momentum, with scores from Nigel Elliott and McCann pushing Antrim in front.

However, Armagh responded with a goal from substitute Tony Duffy just two minutes after his introduction to take a one-point lead with eight minutes remaining.

The sides were tied twice in the closing five minutes until Antrim took control late on with McCann and Cunningham clinching the victory.

Antrim: E Gillan; T McAllister, A Downey, J McCouig; N McAlea, M Donnelly, K McKiernan (0-1, 1f); C Laverty, S Smyth (0-1); J Black (0-1), M Devlin, D McLean (0-1); N Elliott (0-1), C McCann (0-6, 4f) T McCloskey (0-2).

Subs: C Johnston (0-1) for Devlin (HT); C Loughran for Downey (39); N Cunningham (0-1) for Elliott (60).

Armagh: S Doherty; M Garvey, F Corvan, N Duffy; T Marley, P Heaney, JJ Hughes; K McKernan, M Lennon; M Maguire (0-1), J King, C McKee (0-1); A Mackle, C Corvan (1-4, 4f), D Nugent (0-1).

Subs: E Carvill for Mackle (19); R Lewis for N Duffy (HT); L Woods for Marley (41); T Duffy (1-0) for Lewis (50).

Referee: Eamon Hassan (Derry)

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