Much improved Antrim end on a high note

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section B

Antrim 1-14-0-09 St. Mary’s

By Kevin Herron at Woodlands

Antrim claimed their first Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup victory with a win over St. Mary’s at Woodlands this evening in Section B’s basement battle.

The Saffrons dominated the opening 35 minutes and went into the break 1-10-0-03 to the good thanks to a late Ryan Murray goal in the dying embers of the opening half.

St. Mary’s out scored Antrim 0-06-0-04 in the second period with substitute Shane McGuigan helping himself to 0-03 after his introduction from the bench but it wasn’t enough to deny Antrim victory in their last competitive warm-up game before the National League starts in earnest with a clash against neighbours Derry in two weeks time.

Antrim began the game on the front foot with Ryan Murray opening the scoring with a point inside the first two minutes.

Wing half back Niall Delargy fisted over a second and further scores from Kevin Quinn and Patrick McBride (free) had the Saffrons 0-04-0-00 ahead by the tenth minute.

A delightful point from Martin Johnston and a confidently converted Patrick McBride free increased the hosts lead before Stephen McConville replied for the Ranch from the placed ball.

St. Mary’s second score arrived through Niall Toner – the full forward made space before successfully finding range. Though Colm Duffin replied almost instantly at the other end and with five minutes of the half remaining Ryan Murray converted a free after he was tripped as Antrim were 0-08-0-02 to the good.

Martin Johnston doubled his account for the evening as did Murray from the play- the corner-forward popped over after a neat interchange with Patrick McBride and a minute before the end of regulation time in the first-half, the opening goal arrived.

Patrick McBride burst into the area and played the ball into the back post where Murray was waiting to scramble the ball past St. Mary’s keeper Mark Reid to give his side a comfortable 1-10-0-02 lead.

Ryan McSherry hit back for the Ranch before the break – but at the midway point it was the students who had a lot of catching up to do, trailing 1-10-0-03.

Stephen McConville converted an early second half free to open St. Mary’s second-half account and Ricky Johnston replied for the Saffrons at the other end.

The sides exchanged further points through Mary’s substitute Shane McGuigan (free) and McBride.

Owen McKeown then shot over to give Antrim a 1-13-0-05 lead after 52 minutes – it would be the Saffrons penultimate score in the game as St. Mary’s began to the turn the screw.

Back to back scores from Gerard O’Neill and Paul Gunning reduced the deficit to single figures, only for McBride to add his fourth point of the evening in response 13 minutes after his sides last score.

St. Mary’s substitute Shane McGuigan would add a further two scores to his evening tally; one from the play and the other from a free.

In the end it was Antrim who came out on top in the basement battle in Section B and Lenny Harbinson’s men will take the positives ahead of the league opener with Derry two weeks on Sunday.

Antrim: P Nugent, E McCabe, R Johnston (0-01), P Gallagher, N Delargy (0-01), M McCarry, D Lynch, M Sweeney, F Burke, K Quinn (0-01), C Duffin (0-01), P McBride (0-04,0-02f), O McKeown (0-01), M Johnston (0-02), R Murray (1-03,0-01f). Subs: P McCormick for K Quinn (18 mins), P Finnegan for R Murray (36 mins), E Walsh for M Johnston (39 mins), D McCormick for R Johnston (56 mins), C Lemon for C Duffin (62 mins).

St. Mary’s: M Reid, R McCusker, P McSorley, M Rooney, C Byrne, C McKinney, K Muldoon, S McConville (0-02f), J Hannigan, C Stinton, R Coleman, T O’Kane, D McKinless, N Toner (0-01), R McSherry (0-01). Subs: S McGuigan (0-03,0-02f) for C Stinton (44 mins), G O’Neill (0-01) for T O’Kane (47 mins), P Gunning (0-01) for D McKinless (50 mins), C White for K Muldoon (58 mins), H McNamee for S McConville (63 mins).

Referee: Dan Mullan (Doire)

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