Walsh Cup: Antrim 1-18 Westmeath 0-12

Saffrons forward Ciaran Clarke netted the only goal of the Walsh Cup game at Kinnegad
Saffrons forward Ciaran Clarke netted the only goal of the Walsh Cup game at Kinnegad

Antrim's hurlers got their 2017 campaign off to a strong start with a 1-18 to 0-12 win over Westmeath in the Walsh Cup at Kinnegad on Sunday.

The visitors trailed by 0-8 to 0-3 after 22 minutes, with Westmeath firmly on top thanks to the scoring efforts of Alan Devine.

Antrim made a impressive comeback and led 0-10 to 0-9 at the interval.

The Saffrons moved clear in the second half with Ciaran Clarke netting for the Ulster side on 66 minutes.

Antrim's first-half comeback was inspired by the likes of their goalkeeper Chris O'Connell, with the Loughgiel Shamrocks clubman deflecting a Joe Boyle goal shot out for a 65.

Defender Paddy Burke was also on hand to halt a Devine chance, with scores at the opposite end coming from Daniel McKernan, Niall McKenna and Neil McManus.

Saffrons edge in front

A Conor Johnston point levelled the tie for only the second time, before a Clarke effort from a free handed Antrim a half-time lead.

The visitors looked good on the restart with Eoghan Campbell, Maol Connolly, McKernan and McManus on target to build up a 0-16 to 0-10 lead.

Westmeath added back-to-back points but Antrim finished strongly with Clarke's goal coming when goalkeeper Shane McGovern failed to control a looping ball.

McKenna added another point to help Antrim to a nine-point win.

The Saffrons will face Kilkenny and DCU in Group 2 of the competition in the coming weeks.

Kilkenny are fielding a mainly Under 21 squad for the competition, and following a nine-point win over DCU in midweek, find themselves joint top of the group with Antrim after the first round of games.

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