Allianz NFL Division Four
Antrim suffered another narrow defeat at the hands of old adversaries Sligo at Marievicz Park today. The Saffrons pushed hard in the closing stages and a Paddy Cunningham pointed free in time added on brought them to within a point of the Westerners but that was as close as they got.
With the allotted four minutes of stoppage time already played, Cunningham knocked over a 35-metre free to following a crude challenge on Declan Lynch which earned the Sligo skipper a black card.
However, McKenna blew the full-time whistle after Aidan Devaney’s kick-out with the Antrim players venting their anger at the full-time whistle.
Lenny Harbinson claimed that the Monaghan whistler had indicated he would play an additional 30 seconds after the free but blew from the resulting kick-out.
Antrim on reflection will however look to a number of missed chances, particularly a Paddy McBride attempt on goal from close range in the opening half which was blocked down with the ball cleared to safety in the ensuing scramble.
In truth though Sligo were the better side with keeper Aidan Devaney find a with relative ease from his kick-outs while at the other end they pressed up on the Saffron kick-outs and when Oisin Kerr was forced to go long it was the Sligo mid-field pair of Paddy O’Connor and Paul Kilcoyne who dominated.
It took the home side less than a minute to open their account with O’Connor on target before Cunningham replied for Antrim following good work from Eunan Walsh.
Back-to-back points from Sligo corner-forwards Liam Gaughan and Red Og Murphy saw the hosts move two ahead but both sides also missed good chances to score goals in the opening 35 minutes with Oisin Kerr denying Red Og Murphy on eight minutes while Devaney came off his line well to deny Paddy McBride in the 19th minute.
Antrim began to settle and enjoy a bit of success however and Conor Murray, Declan Lynch and Eunan Walsh were all on target to keep the visitors in touch as the game approached half time.
Conor Murray’s second point of the day moved Antrim 0-8 to 0-7 ahead as the clock counted down to half time but the impressive O’Connor relied from the kick out to bring matters level. A misplaced kick-out from Oisin Kerr almost gifted Sligo a goal, but Darragh Cummins opted for the point to move the home side 0-9 to 0-8 ahead at the break.
Both sides showed changes at the start of the second half with Kevin Quinn replacing Mark Gardiner in the Antrim side and Gerard O’Kelly Lynch replacing Neil Ewing in the Sligo line out.
The third quarter was scrappy with Peter Healey producing a number of fine blocks to deny the home but the visitors were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when Quinn was received a black card.
Paddy O’Connor (two) and Keelan Cawley hit three unanswered point to move the home side further ahead as they took advantage of the extra man but points from Cunningham and Colum Duffin kept the visitors in touch as Quinn returned to the fray.
Cunningham had the opportunity to level matters but screwed his shot badly wide in the 56th minute before the impressive O’Connor replied at the other end to extend the gap to two once more. Odhran Eastwood announced his arrival with a fine mark and point but Sligo started to run down the clock with some time-wasting with Murphy picking up a second yellow for kicking the ball into the dug-out.
O’Connor was shown a black for hauling down Lynch with time almost up and Antrim threw everything at their opponents with Cunningham’s last-ditch free leaving just one in it but it was too little too late as the home side survived to take the points..
Sligo scorers: P O’Connor (0-6, 0-4fs), R Murphy (0-3), L Gaughan (0-3, 0-2fs), S Carrabine (0-1), D Cummins (0-1), K Cawley (0-1).
Antrim scorers: P Cunningham (0-8, 0-6fs), C Murray (0-2), D Lynch (0-1), E Walsh (0-1), C Duffin (0-1), O Eastwood (0-1, 0-1OM).
SLIGO: A Devaney; J Carr, E McGuinness, M Gordon; N Mullen, P McNamara, S Carrabane; P O’Connor, Kilcoyne, K Cawley, N Ewing, D Cummins; L Gaughan, C Lally, R Murphy.
Subs: G O’Kelly Lynch for Ewing (HT), P Hughes for Lally (43mins), J O’Reilly for Cawley (54mins), S Coen for Cummins (59mins), A Marren for Gaughan (71mins).
ANTRIM: O Kerr; P Gallagher, R Johnston, M Gardiner; D Lynch, J McAuley, P Healy, R McCann, M Jordan; E Walsh, P McBride, N Delargy; P Cunningham, C Duffin, C Murray.
Subs: K Quinn for Gardiner (HT), C Small for McBride (42mins), O Eastwood for Walsh (54mins), D McAleese for Duffin (60mins), E Nagle for McCann (66mins).
REFEREE: N McKenna (Monaghan).