It was a packed weekend with Hurling, as three matches of the first round in the Joe McDonagh Cup took place.
Antrim 5-25 Meath 2-18, Páirc Tailteann
Antrim weren’t playing to the same level as Meath, as the Royals were picking up their passes and finishing them cleanly with scores. However, the Saffrons quickly responded and turned things around. By halftime, they had grabbed the lead, pushing out ahead, 1-14 to 2-8.
This only continued into the second half for Antrim, as Meath were unable to keep up and draw the game back. Antrim players Conor Johnston, Nigel Elliot and Simon McCrory were in brilliant form, showing their skills and moreover their scoring abilities.
Elliot had a brilliant run, bursting through the Meath defence to land the sliotar in the back of the net. This gave Antrim the energy they needed, and once they got going, there was really no stopping them.
They scored three goals in the space of five minutes, torturing the Meath defence. Two came from Elliot and one came from Johnson.
Meath persisted though, and substitutions Sean Quigley and Paddy Conneely came on looking determined, scoring a point apiece. Antrim were awarded a penalty which Johnston whacked into the back of the net, sealing a victory for the Saffrons.
Westmeath 2-21 Laois 1-21, O’Moore Park
It was nailing biting hurling between these sides as both were level in the final five minutes of the match, with Westmeath hoping to get their first Championship win over Laois in 50 years.
Westmeath took the lead from the start of this match, as Laois struggled to keep up. Points from Paddy Purcell and Robbie King kept Laois in the game as they equalised out with Westmeath. It was the Lake County though that were looking stronger, with Robbie Greville securing them a goal, and they maintained a three-point lead.
With Laois now looking confident, Cha Dwyer fired the sliotar towards the goal line from 20 yards out, though it was brilliantly saved by Paddy Carroll.
However, Neil Foyle was there to tap the rebound ball into the back of the net. Come the halftime whistle, Laois were ahead by 1-13 to 1-10, but Westmeath were still very much in it and it was all to play for.
Westmeath came back into the second half looking determined as ever and found an equalising goal in the opening 30 seconds which was hit by Niall Mitchell. With ten minutes left to go, Westmeath held the lead 2-18 to 1-18, though Laois responded.
Matthew Whelan and Dwyer both knocked over points. It was back level for the final few minutes. Both teams were scrambling for a winning point, as the clock ticked on, but it was Westmeath who prevailed, as they tallied up another three points to secure themselves a well-fought win.
Carlow 0-21 Kerry 0-18, Netwatch Cullen Park
Within the opening 10 minutes, both sides were level with 5 points each. Carlow’s Chris Nolan was unfortunate to miss a goal chance, though Edward Byrne was on hand to knock the saved shot over the bar to give Carlow a one-point lead 0-10 to 0-9 come half time.
Carlow responded brilliantly and knocked five points in a row over the bar from the likes of Jack Kavanagh, Kevin McDonald, James Doyle and Ross Smithers. This was enough for Carlow to claim victory and will have good momentum as they face Antrim this weekend in Round 2.