Ulster Hurling Final: Antrim 1-15 1-14 Down

Down pair Conor O'Neill and Michael Hughes put Antrim's Matthew Donnelly under pressure in the final
Down pair Conor O'Neill and Michael Hughes put Antrim's Matthew Donnelly under pressure in the final

Antrim needed an injury-time point from Conor McKinley to edge out Down and retain the Ulster hurling title.

PJ O'Connell's goal gave the Saffrons an early lead but Down seized control and a Gareth Johnson penalty helped them to a 1-9 to 1-6 lead at half-time.

Stephen Keith saved O'Connell's penalty but Antrim levelled after an improved second-half display at Owenbeg.

McKinley fired over the winner before Down missed a chance as Antrim clinched a 14th straight provincial triumph.

O'Connell's long ball managed to evade the Mourne defence and Keith as the ball trickled into the net.

Down were fancied by many to cause an upset and they made an impressive response, hitting four straight points.

Johnson slotted over twice while Steven Dineen and Paul Sheehan were also on target.

Dessie McLean frees kept Antrim in touch but Johnston rifled into the top corner with his penalty to ensure Down led by three at the break.

Antrim were lethargic in the opening 35 minutes but they upped the tempo on the restart and closed the gap.

However, a Johnson point restored Down's three-point advantage and they looked on course for victory when Keith kept out the penalty from O'Connell.

However, the influential Conor Carson scored the first of three straight Antrim points to leave the teams level.

It was still all-square going into added time and McKinley kept his composure the slip over the winner.

Michael Turley almost equalised but his effort went just wide as the Saffrons continued their reign as Ulster champions.

Antrim also won the minor decider, with the young Saffrons beating Derry 2-21 to 1-9.

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