Antrim left scratching their heads as Louth win

Leo Murphy Cup Group 2

Antrim 1-10 Louth 1-12

Antrim management and supporters were left scratching their heads in despair after their side had lost by two points to a good Louth side at Dunsilly today in the Leo Murphy U20 Football Development league.

The visitors were on top for most of the opening half with their defence dominating and they led by 1-5 to 0-2 at the half way stage thanks to an excellent goal from Tom Johnston. The Saffrons struggled to break down a well organised Louth defence but might have had a goal of their own but Cormac McGettigan was denied by visiting keeper Ciaran McMahon after finding himself clear on goal.

After the break it was the home side who slowly got on top with Eoin McMenamim taking control at mid-field and a Peter Henvey goal with ten minutes remaining saw them hit the front for the first time and they looked to be on their way to a second victory in two weeks.

A couple of minutes later McMenamim was shown a straight Red following an off the ball incident and with Antrim leading by two, Henvey received Black following a pull down and all of a sudden the Saffrons were down to 13.

Louth went on to hit the final four points of the game to claim the points and look in good shape going into the championship but Antrim will surely reflect on the number of chances they missed over the hour, including two decent goal opportunities in the second half.

It was the team in red who looked the more assured and organised in the opening thirty minutes with Tom Johnston’s daisy cutter to the corner of Gary Murray’s net in the 17th minute putting them in a commanding position.

The Leinster side were first off the mark when Sean Healy pointed them ahead and Conal McCaul increased that lead to two before Ciaran O’Neill pulled one back for Hugh McGettigan’s side. Antrim should have gone ahead after ten minutes but Cormac McGettigan was denied by Ciaran McMahon after a strong run through the middle.

Luke Matthews extended the Louth lead to two from a close range free before an Eoghan McMenamim point left just two in it at the end of the opening quarter. Johnston fired to the net after 17 minutes to give Louth a decided edge and by half time they had moved 1-5 to 0-2 ahead with Conal McCaul and Carl Gillispie their scorers.

It was a different story after the break and whatever Hugh McGettigan and his backroom team said to their side at the break obviously worked. Eoghan McMenamim opened their account with an early point and after Conal McCaul replied for the visitors the Saffrons began to gain control.

Adam Loughran from a free, Aaron McNeilly, Conor Stewart, Ciaran O’Neill and substitute James McDonnell added points and when Peter Henvey got on the end of a good build up to finish to the net the home side had hit the front for the first time and the momentum was very much in their favour.

Rory Brolly converted a close range free after the ball had been moved forward for encroachment and it looked like being Antrim’s day. Brolly then looked in for a goal when he was put clear by Loughran but he opted to palm the ball instead of catching it and only managed to direct it into the grateful arms of McMahon.

Ronan Gribbin then had a guilt edged opportunity when Seaan Elliott’s cross fell into his path but his first time effort screwed wide and  things then took another  turn for the worse as indiscipline crept into the Saffrons play.

Eoghan McMenamim, who had been outstanding at mid-field was shown Red and shortly after Peter Henvey followed him to the sideline following a black card and Louth took full advantage as they hit the last four points of the game to claim the spoils.

Carl Gillispie began the comeback and Conal McCaul, Gillispie again and Ciaran Keenan were all on target as the visitors edged home winners by two points.

Antrim must now get themselves ready for a championship opener against the winners of Derry and Fermanagh but despite this defeat they are in reasonable shape going into that tie. If they can put some of the mistakes they have been making over their three Leo Murphy Cup games behind them and harness the positives from those games then they won’t be too far away.

Antrim: Gary Murray, Eunan McAteer, Jamie Lamont, John Morgan, Marc McAffee, Cormac McGettigan, Ronan Gribbin, Eoghan McMenamim, Ciaran O’Neill, Aaron McNeilly, Peter Henvey, Adam Loughran, Dominic McAteer, Ryan Stewart, Rory Brolly. Subs: Seaan Elliott, Eoin Hynds, Conal McDonall, Daniel Foster, Conall Murray, James McDonnell, Oisin Doherty, Miceal Ferris, Conall Finnegan,

Louth: Ciaran McMahon, Donal Kenny, Peter Lynch, Kieran Murtagh, Ciaran Murphy, Tom Jackson, Glen Stewart, Sean Healy, Daragh Malone, Ciaran Keenan, Conal McCaul, Ben Collier, Luke Matthews, Carl Gillispie, Cillian Rice, Conor Garland.

Referee: Dan Mullan (Derry).

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