Allianz NFL Division Four (round four)
Antrim 0-11 Carlow 1-08
Antrim staged a strong second half comeback to earn a point against a rugged Carlow at Glenavy today but will rue a couple of late misses that might have seen them take both points.
A point lost or a point won? Fifteen minutes into this encounter the Saffrons would have been happy to take a point as visitors Carlow raced into a 1-3 to 0-0 lead and the Barrowsiders were full value for that lead as the home side struggled to put a meaningful attack together.
The visitors had obviously done their homework with Antrim’s Paddy Cunningham coming in for some close attention, both on and off the ball and Carlow’s over physical approach seemed to rattle the Saffrons in the early stages of the game.
Eventually Antrim opened their account when Paddy Cunningham despatched a close range free between the posts.
Lenny Harbinson’s men with the hard grafting Conor Murray leading the way, began to get a foothold in the second quarter but the early momentum enjoyed by Carlow and their early goal ensured an interval advantage of 1-04 to 0-04.
Antrim still looked fragile on the resumption as they struggled to break down a hard tackling Carlow defence and were four behind going into the final quarter but a number of astute substitutions changed the complexion of the game.
Trailing 1-6 to 0-5, the Antrim management introduced Michael McCann for Marc Jordan and then Odhran Eastwood for the out of sorts Paddy Cunningham and the substitutions had an immediate effect.
The Cargin man took control in the middle of the field, bringing an air of calm to proceedings.
Eastwood announced his arrival with an excellent point and went on to add two more while a super Conor Murray effort saw the Saffron’s on par by the 68th minute and only another ‘fumble’ on the way to the posts halted an onward march towards the lead in time added.
Indeed they looked to have clinched both points but a Colm Duffin free from an acute angle was adjudged off target and Carlow did engineer a late opportunity to snatch the ‘winner’ but Paul Broderick’s 75th minute effort failed to reach the target.
The Leinster men, with just a single win to date came to Glenavy knowing that another defeat would probably put paid to their promotion chances and they showed a hunger and desire that Antrim couldn’t match during the early exchanges.
The Barrowsiders started very much in the positive with Ross Dunphy, Jordan Morrissey and late call up John Murphy very much to the fore.
A couple of opportunities went a begging during the opening exchanges but a well executed counter attack saw Darragh O’ Brien open the door for Sean Gannon to punch to the net for the visitors.
Antrim struggled to get it together, rocked by the early concession as Jordan Morrissey nipped forward to send over the bar and Paul Broderick and Rory Dunphy added two more to make it 1-03 to 0-00 at the end of the opening quarter.
Antrim finally opened their account in the 16th minute as Paddy Cunningham sent a close free between the posts after Mark Jordan was fouled but Carlow were quick to reply and Paul Broderick responded from a free to restore their six point advantage.
Back to back points by Patrick McBride and Paddy Cunningham closed the gap to three but the Carlow defence stood strong in the latter stages before a Ricki Johnston interception and a superb Conor Murray point left the Saffrons trailing 1-04 to 0-04 at the break.
The home side stated the second half aided by the diagonal breeze but the visitors were first to strike as wing half back Jordan Morrissey made way up the right hand side to strike firmly between the posts in the 43rd minute.
A smashing score with the home side unable to reply until Paddy Cunningham punished an indiscretion on the advancing Conor Murray by sending the resultant award between the posts in the 51st minute.
At this stage Antrim introduced Michael McCann, the Cargin man making his return to the Saffron jersey after a three year absence and in it was to pay dividends.
McCann seemed to bring a calmness to what had been a disjointed performance with Antrim responding to his promptings while the introduction of Odhran Eastwood and Conor Small lit up their attack.
Eastwood was not at all troubled to raise a trio of white flags in the Antrim cause in the hectic latter stages with Declan Lynch, Colum Duffin, and Conor Murray adding points apiece to ensure they were on par at the 11th hour.
Colm Duffin’s late free from out on the right came painfully close to giving them both points with many in the home support raising a cheer only to be silenced by the umpires out stretched arms.
Antrim entertain leaders Limerick next week at the same venue and a home win looks a must if they are to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Antrim: Andrew Hasson, Patrick Gallagher, Ricky Johnston, Mark Gardiner, Declan Lynch (0-01), James Mc Auley, Peter Healey, Colum Duffin (0-01), Marc Jordan, Dermot Mc Aleese, Patrick Mc Bride (0-01), Niall Delargy, Patrick Cunningham (0-03), Ruairi Mc Cann, Conor Murray (0-02)
Kevin Quinn for D Mc Aleese
Odhran Eastwood (0-03) for P Cunningham
Michael Mc Cann for M Jordan
Conor Small for P Mc Bride
Eoin Nagle for R McCann
Carlow: Robert Samson, Liam Roberts, Shane Redmond, Josh Moore, Jordan Morrissey (0-02), Ray Walker, Ross Dunphy (0-01), John Murphy, Sean Murphy, Sean Gannon (0-01), Darragh O’Brien, Eoghan Ruth, Diarmuid Walshe, Paul Broderick (0-04), Darragh Foley (0-03)
Lee Walker for D Foley
Mike Bambrick for J Moore
Colm Hutton (0-01) for R Walker
Conor Doyle for D Walshe
Referee Conor Doureen (Cabhain)