By David Mohan

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Group A Round 2

Queen’s University 1-11

Antrim 3-11

A STRONG second half display saw Antrim claim their first points of this year’s Dr McKenna Cup as the Saffrons hit three goals to see off Queen’s at The Dub last night.

The Saffrons poor form from Sunday when they lost to Derry seemed to be set to continue as they trailed by three at the break, but they really took this game by the scruff of the neck and three superb goals, two for Brian Neeson and the other for Michael McCann saw them home.

The sides traded early points before Antrim gradually grew into the game and started to enjoy more of the play, but perhaps over-elaborated and points from Conor Murray and Kevin Niblock within a minute proved to be their only scores from play in the opening 35 minutes.

Martin Clarke kicked another free in response before Antrim’s Ryan Murray – lining out for Queen’s – kicked the score of the half from an angle out on the left to level. Colm Fleming nudged Antrim back in front on 21 minutes with his third free of the half, but Queen’s – playing with a strong breeze at their backs – finished the half much stronger and a long free from Clarke tied the game at 0-5 before Ruairi Corrigan slipped in Michael Monan who raced through and scored.

McGovern then tapped over his second after Sean McVeigh cut out a dangerous Niall Delargy pass and Queen’s then passed up a goal chance when a loose ball dropped to Corrigan who was unable to turn it into the net.

Antrim were then dealt a blow as Sean Burke hobbled off injured before Queen’s had another great goal chance when Kevin O’Boyle completely missed Martin Clarke’s long delivery and McGovern gathered, raced in on goal, but goalkeeper Ronan Hanna made a stunning stop to divert the shot up and over to leave Queen’s 0-8 to 0-5 at the half.

Clarke moved Queen’s further ahead with a free just after the break, but Antrim were looking much more threatening with the wind at their backs and they roared back into the game when Kevin Niblock went on a surging run, fed Brian Neeson who sent a rasping shot into the top corner. Fleming tied the game with a free soon after.

Queen’s hit back straight away with a goal, but there was an element of good fortune when McGovern shot for a point as falling back and the ball dipped wickedly over Hanna and off the post and into the net.

The students were then dealt a blow when Martin Clarke was issued a black card for trailing down an Antrim player and Kevin Niblock reduced the arrears with a long score at the other end.

This signalled the start of Antrim’s best spell of the game as they hit a further 1-4 over a 10 minute period. First off, Kevin O’Boyle played an incredible long ball into Michael McCann who took it in stride, bore in on goal and fired to the net. Points from Neeson, Donal Nugent, Justin Crozier and Tomás McCann followed as Antrim went 2-11 to 1-9 ahead.

Queen’s did rally somewhat with another excellent Ryan Murray score and a Brendan Bradley free to leave a goal in it with the game moving into injury-time.

The students needed a goal but it was to come at the other end when Conor Murray’s long ball dropped to Neeson who chipped Jonathan Denney soccer-style to seal the win. Murray then received a straight red for an off the ball tangle with Dermott McAleese, but the game was up as Antrim claimed the points.

ANTRIM: R Hanna; K O’Boyle, S McVeigh, J McGreevy; M Hynes, J Crozier (0-1), P Gallagher; J Carron, C Murray (0-1); M McCann (1-0), K Niblock (0-2), P Kelly; S Burke, C Fleming (0-4, all frees), T McCann (0-1 free). Subs: B Neeson (2-1) for S Burke (34 mins), D Nugent (0-1) for J Carron (52 mins), M Armstrong for M Hynes (57 mins), J Dowling for P Kelly (66 mins),

QUB: J Denney; G McCabe, C Cullen, B Burns; N Delargy, S Heffron, M Monan (0-1); B Rogers, A Doherty; R Murray (0-2), M Clarke (0-4 all frees), D McAleese; R Corrigan, G McGovern (1-3), C Martin. Subs: C Hamill for M Clarke (black card, 45 mins), H Brown for C Martin (55 mins), B Bradley (0-1 free) for M Monan (57 mins), C Lavelle for C Cullen (60 mins),

REFEREE: Brendan Rice (Down)