Allianz Hurling League Division One, Group B
Antrim 1-13 Galway 2-35

IT was a day to forget for Antrim at Corrigan Park on Sunday as they were blown away by a rampant Galway.

The Saffrons left the same venue bitterly disappointed a fortnight ago when they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Dublin, but this time they just didn't get anywhere near the level of performance to give themselves a chance.

Mistakes were made from the start and the concession of a preventable goal with just one minute on the clock set a bad tone and although they came into it in spells in the opening half, Galway were just sharper, better and more clinical.

The result puts an end to any hope of playing in the new-look Division 1A next year but perhaps even more disappointing was the fact they just never quite got a head of steam in this game or reached the levels they know they are capable of.

They were made to pay as Galway arrived in Belfast in mean form looking to park their own disappointment of a fortnight back when they lost to Tipperary and the emphatic margin of victory told the full tale.

Evan Niland led the way with 13 points, while Jason Flynn struck goals in each half to cement their dominance.

Tom Monaghan and Conor Cooney chipped in with 10 between them on a day in which the Tribesmen proved dominant as Antrim just couldn't couldn't get anything going.

"We got no momentum and were architects of our own downfall early," said a disappointed Antrim manager, Darren Gleeson.

"Galway had much greater quality than us, were willing to work harder than us and better at executing basic skills, which was all around. It was mismatch.

"You don't want to give them encouragement but I'm encouraging our boys to play ball and we didn't execute it well enough. 

"I thought we were very jittery all day long throughout the field. Our execution of the basic tasks was way below the level you'd expect, so you have to ask how you come to a work-rate level two weeks ago (against Dublin) and then not willing to work as hard when you come up against Galway.

"We were outclassed today and just have to admit that."

Antrim would have been keen to gain an early foothold, but instead they coughed pop a cheap goal after just one minute as a slack pass was intercepted by Flynn who had an open goal to tap home to.

The hosts, aided by a stiff wind, did settle and picked off some fine long-range points - a feature of their play in the opening period - through Eoghan Campbell and Rian McMullan.

At the other end, Evan Niland was beginning to tick as he began his run of eight first-half points from a free.

Galway were stretching their lead with a good spread of scorers with all six forward on the board by the break, while Antrim were to rely on those long-range efforts and six wides also didn't help their cause.

A run of four in a row saw Galway stretch the gap to seven where Antrim got the goal they needed as Niall McKenna rose to fetch Scott Walsh's delivery, popped to Joseph McLaughlin with the teenager burying his chance.

However, Antrim were unable to kick on from this with Galway and Niland in particular pouring on the points as they went in at the break with a 1-16 to 1-7 advantage.

Galway would turn on the afterburners early in the second period as after an early exchange of points, they would hit 15 and 0-6 either side of Antrim's next score.

The goal would come in the 42nd minute and again it was from Flynn who availed of the advantage, steadied and cracked to the net.

The sting was long gone from this game with Galway pouring one the points as Conor Cooney and Tom Monaghan were prominent and substitutes Jamie Ryan and John Cooney also chipped in.

Antrim did keep plugging, but the moments were fleeting as Galway romped over the line to claim an impressive win.

"I think they were very focused in advance," said Galway manager, Henry Shefflin.

"We travelled up last night and prepared very well as we knew this was going to be a tricky place to come.

"Even when we made a few errors in the first half they applied themselves very well and had control of the game from a long way out, which is good.

"We got the two points and have a bit of a break now which is nice ahead of a big game in two weeks' time (against Dublin)."

 Ronan McAteer is challenged by Daithí Burke

Ronan McAteer is challenged by Daithí Burke

The mood from the Antrim camp was in stark contrast as although getting result against one of hurling's leading lights was always going to be a huge challenge, the manner of the loss was the most disappointing aspect.

A huge injury list hasn't helped in this League campaign and there has been something of a new look to the team with a number of fresh faces involved.

Gleeson accepts that it will take those players time to get up to speed in the inter-county arena, but also acknowledged they need to learn fast.

"You need to go to every game looking to get a performance.

"You can't just arrive at a point of the year and expects performance because you're there. You've got to build  through it.

"We lost an opportunity to test ourselves against a team that's going to be here in two months' time in the Championship. What do we do for the next four or five weeks? We knuckle down, train hard and try to get bodies back on the field.

"We lost a few more between the Dublin game and now, lost another couple today by the looks of it so we'll assess that in the coming weeks.

"We just need to work on the basics of the game as we executed them poorly again.

"There are a lot of lads learning their trade there. Ronan McAteer made his debut today, Rory (McCloskey) in his first year, Tiernan (Smyth), Fred (McCurry) and Rian McMullan asked to play in the middle of the field.

"They are learning and we just have to be patient with it. In fairness to the crowd, they weren't hard on them which is great as they know the situation of lads learning their trade, but you need to learn quickly at this level."

ANTRIM: T Smyth; P Duffin, R McCloskey, P Burke (0-2); N O’Connor (0-1), R McGarry (0-1), S Walsh; R McAteer, E Campbell (0-2); R McMullan (0-1), A O’Brien, N McKenna (0-1); C Cunning (0-2, 1f), J McLaughlin (1-0), F McCurry
Subs: E Trainor for R McAteer (45), E Og McGarry for E Campbell (45), C McCann (0-2) for F McCurry (45), C McGarry (0-1) for A O'Brien (56), A Bradley for J McLaughlin (63)

GALWAY: D Fahy; D Morrissey, F Burke, P Mannion; A Tuohey, C Fahy, (0-2) Daithí Burke; David Burke, S Linnane (0-3); G Lee (0-1), T Monaghan (0-6), C Cooney (0-4); E Niland (0-13, 10f), C Whelan (0-2), J Flynn (2-1)
Subs: R Glennon for G Lee (52), J Ryan (0-2) for C Whelan (52), D O'Shea for David Burke (54), C Mahoney for Daithí Burke (57), J Cooney (0-1) for C Cooney (58)

REFEREE: T Gleeson (Dublin)