Antrim 1-19 Dublin 1-19
By David Mohan at Corrigan Park
A thrilling Leinster Senior Hurling Championship opener at Corrigan Park finished honours even as Cian O’Sullivan squeezed home a last-gasp equaliser to deny Antrim victory.
Both sides will probably reflect on the game with mixed emotions as they could have easily taken both points or came up empty-handed in a frantic finish that saw Dublin hit the front for the first Tim in the game when Donal Burke banged home a 67th-minute goal, only for Antrim to edge ahead.
The Dubs threw everything at getting a winning major, but superb Antrim defending – one of the features of this game with Conall Bohill and Paddy Burke particularly catching the eye – bolted the door although the visitors did grab a share of the spoils with O’Sullivan thumping over his sixth of the day in wet conditions.
Antrim roared into this game with a huge intensity as Keelan Molloy pointed them into an early lead and although Dónal Burke replied, the Saffrons owned the opening phase with Gerard Walsh and Conal Cunning landing.
That early effort was epitomised by the opening goal on eight minutes as Seaan Elliott forced a turnover and then sprinted in on goal. His shot was saved by Seán Brennan, but Conor Johnston was there to bat home the rebound to make it 1-4 to 0-2.
Burke and Cian O’Sullivan were carrying the fight for Dublin who did settle and enjoyed a decent spell with four points on the spin, but Antrim steadied with Cunning converting frees.
The Dubs really ought to have had a goal on 29 minutes as Paul Crummey found himself in and the goal at his mercy, but scrambled defence forced a rushed shot that went over.
Antrim goalkeeper Ryan Elliott then was forced into a smart stop from Burke after Seaan Elliott nailed a sideline for Antrim, but three-in-a-row from Dublin left the minimum between the teams before a late Cunning free gave Antrim a 1-11 to 0-12 lead that in no way flattered them.
The rain was pouring in at the start of the second half, but Antrim were turning up the heat and hit five of the opening six points of the half through man-of-the-match Paddy Burke, Cunning and Elliott within 15 minutes to put them in the box seat.
Dublin raised a charge, but Donal Burke began to misfire from frees although he regathered composure as the visitors ate into the Antrim lead.
A Michael Bradley point steadied the hosts, but momentum was with the visitors with O’Sullivan and Burke pointing to leave two in it with the clock ticking and three minutes from time, it seemed the Dubs had broken Antrim’s hearts as substitute Seán Currie took a pass from fellow substitute Ronan Hayes and popped to Burke, who blasted home.
But Antrim stayed with it, Cunning knocking over a free and then in stoppage time, Paul Boyle floated over what the home support hoped was the winner.
There was time for late drama as first, Conall Bohill recovered superbly to deny O’Sullivan a goal with a block out for a 65 that Burke floated in and this time, O’Sullivan opted to take his point to rescue a draw for the Dubs.
Scorers for Antrim: Conal Cunning 0-9 (6f), Gerard Walsh 0-3 (3f), Conor Johnston 1-0, Seaan Elliott 0-2 (1 sideline), Michael Bradley 0-2, Keelan Molloy 0-1, Paddy Burke 0-1, Paul Boyle 0-1
Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 1-9 (0-6f, 0-2 65), Cian O’Sullivan 0-6 (1 sideline), Cian Boloand 0-1, Paul Crummey 0-1, Daire Gray 0-1, Alex Considine 0-1
Antrim: Ryan Elliott; Paddy Burke, Ryan McGarry, Niall O’Connor; Gerard Walsh, Eoghan Campbell, Conal Bohill; Michael Bradley, James McNaughton; Seaan Elliott, Keelan Molloy, Nigel Elliott; Conal Cunning, Neil McManus, Conor Johnston.
Subs: Joe Maskey for N Elliott (28), Eoin O’Neill for K Molloy (62), Paul Boyle for C Johnston (66), Domhnall Nugent for J McNaughton (69), Rian McMullan for M Bradley (70+3).
Dublin: Seán Brennan; Mark Grogan, Eoghan O’Donnell, Paddy Smyth; Paddy Doyle, Conor Burke, Daire Gray; Conor Donohoe, Chris O’Leary; Danny Sutcliffe, Dónal Burke, Cian Boland; Alex Considine, Cian O’Sullivan, Paul Crummey.
Subs: Ronan Hayes for A Considine (48), Sean Currie for P Crummey (56), Darragh Power for C Boland (60).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).