Antrim 2-19 Cork 3-27
CORK will face Galway in the All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals next Saturday afternoon at 1.45pm in Thurles.
That clash will form part of a double-header with the Clare-Wexford tie at 3.45pm. There had been speculation Páirc Uí Chaoimh would host that game but instead, the GAA have opted for FBD Semple Stadium for both games.
Kilkenny and Limerick are sitting on each side of the semi-final draw and repeat provincial pairings will be avoided where possible.
Cork got a stern test from Antrim at Corrigan Park on Saturday afternoon to make the last six.
The scoreboard at the end might have told of an 11-point win for the visitors, but with five minutes of normal time left, Cork were 2-23 to 2018 in front when Antrim’s James McNaughton missed a scoreable free – one of the few he failed with, scoring 1-9 in total.
In the wake of that, Séamus Harnedy set up Darragh Fitzgibbon for his third point and Cork outscored Antrim by 1-3 to 0-1 for the remainder, Harnedy with the third goal at the death.
For Antrim, there was a lot to be proud of and they will recall the day that Cork had to bring on Patrick Horgan to be sure of victory against them – he added two more points to his all-time record – but Darren Gleeson’s side will surely see this as a missed opportunity, especially after shooting 10 first-half wides with the considerable breeze behind them.
Cork got out of Belfast with the win, which was the ultimate goal but also the minimum expectation.
While Sean Elliott had Antrim off the mark after a minute, Cork looked to have settled when they struck for a fourth-minute goal. Shane Kingston and Tim O’Mahony combined to give Alan Connolly a chance and, though he lost possession as Antrim goalkeeper Ryan Elliott came off his line, Darragh Fitzgibbon was on hand to send the loose ball to the net.
Conor Lehane added a point following a good team move, but from the puckout, Antrim wing-forward James McNaughton was allowed to carry the ball before firing a low shot past Patrick Collins.
That made it 1-1 each but the frenetic nature of the game continued as Connolly forged an opening. While his shot was saved by Elliott, he had been fouled by David Kearney and a penalty accrued. Lehane slotted that home and Robbie O’Flynn added the first of his four first-half points but still the hosts couldn’t be shaken, even when Mark Coleman landed a long-range free to make it 2-5 to 1-4 on 22.
Keelan Molloy was outstanding for Antrim and he got their second goal after midfield partner Michael Bradley provided the pass. They were level at 2-6 each when Conal Cunning sent a free over, moments after missing another opportunity.
While O’Flynn had two points to put Cork 2-9 to 2-8 in front and Conor Cahalane was brought on instead of Shane Kingston to boost the half-forward line, Antrim finished the half with three of the final four points. James McNaughton’s free from halfway gave him 1-3 since the start and left it 2-11 to 2-10 as the home side departed to a standing ovation.
Harnedy’s first point of the day levelled on the resumption but, while Molloy replied with a superb individual effort, it was the last time they led. Most of their remaining output came from McNaughton frees while Cork, with Darragh Fitzgibbon coming to the fore at midfield, began to edge clear as O’Flynn and Lehane added points along with Alan Connolly.
When O’Flynn found Harnedy with a sideline cut on 53, he added his third but it was death by a thousand cuts rather than a killer blow until Harnedy’s late goal.
The pity for the Glensmen is that their year is at an end and they can’t build on this but they will look to push on in next year’s Leinster championship. Cork’s need for improvement is far more pressing – Galway in Thurles next Saturday might not be as surmountable an obstacle.
J McNaughton 1-9 (0-6 f), K Molloy 1-3, C Cunning 0-2 f, N McManus (sideline), S Elliott, C Johnston, D Kearney, P Burke 0-1 each.
C Lehane 1-9 (1-0 penalty, 0-2 f, 0-1 65), R O’Flynn 0-6, S Harnedy, D Fitzgibbon 1-3 each, A Connolly, P Horgan 0-2 each, M Coleman (f), C Cahalane 0-1 each.
R Elliott; N O’Connor, G Walsh, D Kearney; P Burke, E Campbell, J Maskey; M Bradley, K Molloy; J McNaughton, C Clarke, D Nugent; S Elliott, N McManus, C Cunning.
C McCann for Nugent (49), C Johnston for S Elliott, C Bohill for Bradley (both 55), N McKenna for Cunning (63), D McKernan for Maskey (68).
P Collins; S O’Donoghue, R Downey, D Cahalane; N O’Leary, C Joyce, M Coleman; D Fitzgibbon, L Meade; R O’Flynn, S Harnedy, S Kingston; T O’Mahony, A Connolly, C Lehane.
C Cahalane for Kingston (29), G Millerick for Downey (51), T O’Connell for Meade (58), P Horgan for O’Mahony (61), J O’Connor for Connolly (68).
L Gordon (Galway).