Fourteen man Antrim fade as Sligo prosper in All Ireland qualifiers

Sligo 0-22 Antrim 3-7

Antrim’s interest in the All Ireland Football Championship for 2017 ended at Markievicz Park Sligo today when their hosts came from behind to record a six point win.  Things looked promising for the Saffrons ten minutes into the second-half when a Matt Fitzpatrick goal put them into a 2-6 to 0-8 lead, despite being down fourteen men. Hopes were high among the travelling fans but incredibly Sligo scored the next twelve points without reply to go eight points clear and turn the game on its head.  The Westerners were in full flow during that final quarter when Antrim struggled to contain a potent Sligo attack that hit twelve points without reply to seal the win.

In a closely contested first half the sides were level six times, though Antrim were to rue two great goal chances during that period and a Paddy O’Connor’s point just on half time gave the Connaught men a 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead.

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Things looked promising when Antrim made a great start to the second half as CJ McGourty fired a penalty to the Sligo net after Owen Gallagher had been pulled down in the large ‘square’. However the Antrim optimism that McGourty’s goal generated didn’t last long as four minutes later they were reduced to 14 men after substitite Jack Dowling was dismissed for a late tackle on Breheny.  The optimism returned minutes later when Matt Fitzpatrick goaled but that was to be the high point as the hosts took control.

As the Yates County men began to find their rhythm Marren cut the gap back to three and further points by Stephen Coen (free) and Marren saw the gap reduced to the minimum as the game entered the final quarter.

Antrim were chasing shadows  as the homes sides knocked over the points through Coen (free), Pat Hughes and Marren to give their team a 0-14 to 2-6.

Scoring seemingly at will Coen, Marren, Hughes, Murphy and substitute Kevin McDonnell stretched the gap even further and though Paddy McBride netted a late consolation goal the impressive Sligo point taking continued as Coen added two more to take his second half total to eight.

Another disappointing day for Antrim who were once again left to rue untaken chances when they were in control of the game. Sligo go into Monday’s draw for the next round of the qualifiers while Antrim won’t be back in action to the start of the McKenna Cup in just over six months time.

Sligo – A Devaney; R Donovan, E McHugh (0-1), C Harrison; Keelan Cawley, B Egan, N Ewing; A McIntyre, P O’Connor (0-2); J Kelly, M Breheny (0-1f), N Murphy (0-2); S Coen (0-8, 4f), P Hughes (0-2), A Marren (0-5, 3f). Subs: K McDonnell (0-1) for E McHugh, Kyle Cawley for M Breheny, G O’Kelly Lynch for Keelan Cawley, S Gilmartin for J Kelly, S Henry for P Hughes, D Cummins for P O’Connor, P Laffey for C Harrison.

Antrim – C Kerr; N Delargy, P Gallagher, C Hamill; P McBride (1-1), D Lynch, P McAleer; S McVeigh, S Beatty; C Murray (0-3), M Fitzpatrick (1-0), M Sweeney; CJ McGourty (1-2, 1-0pen, 0-2f), T McCann (0-1), R McCann. Subs: O Gallagher for R McCann, J Dowling for S Beatty, R Murray for T McCann, B Bradley for CJ McGourty, P Healy for M Sweeney (BC).

Referee – F Kelly.

Antrim fans who made the long journey to Sligo

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