Ulster Minor League (Round One)
Antrim 2-06 Armagh 0-10
Antrim opened their account in the Ulster minor league competition when they held firm to deny the visiting Armagh side at a bitterly cold and windy Dunsilly on Saturday.
They young Saffron’s under Rasharkin based Paddy Kelly had to work hard to secure the points and defiant in the extreme conditions and having to work hard against a good side from the Orchard county they stood firm to breast the winning line in front.
Armagh opened their account on a Dunsilly sod, which had remained in good order despite the less than favourable conditions which had prevailed for most of the week, when corner forward Ciaran Donnelly split the posts
The Orchard county representatives had been on the back foot in the opening minutes as the Saffron’s started in on the positive but a well laid counter attack in which mid fielder Aaron Mc Partland was central opened the way for the first score.
Antrim were reduced in number in the opening phase when mid-fielder Darragh Doherty was shown ‘black’ but they did draw abreast of their visitors in the 8th minute as Ryan Mc Quillan delivered between the posts after Eunan Quinn’s pin point delivery sent him away to the target.
The Saffron’s despite the numerical advantage were holding the line well and had taken advantage by the 12th minute as a foul on the incoming Ronan Mc Killop saw Ryan Mc Quillan stroke the resultant award between the posts.
The lead was short lived however as Cathal Agnew claimed the resultant kick out and despatched the pace laden Luke Mc Keever way on the right hand side to send over.
Antrim were back to numerical terms at the end of the opening period when mid fielder Darragh Doherty completed his term in the bin and just in time to see his side claim advantage as Ronan Mc Killop bagged a 16th minute goal.
The wing half forward had been well found out on the right hand side by a slick Callum Higgins delivery and wasted no opportunity when he delivered low and hard to find the corner of the net and ensure a 1-02 to 0-02 lead.
The visitors did not remain long in arrears however as the major concession provoked a quick response and although a couple of chances were wasted with wayward finishing a trio of white flags raised in sequence saw them back on par by the 26th minute.
The end of the opening period approached and it was to be the Antrim lads who were to draw last blood as Eunan Quinn and Callum Higgins combined to send Eoin Dixon in to grab a late point and ensure a half time advantage of 1-03 to 0-05.
Antrim started the second period as they had concluded the first, with an early score as replacement Conhuir Johnston announced his arrival with a point, as he despatched between the posts with is first touch less than a minute into the new half.
Johnston who was to prove influential after introduction came close to finding the net shortly thereafter and was unlucky to only find the side netting with his left foot delivery.
Antrim did hold the advantage in the opening minutes of the period but with little to show for it on the board and in it was the Orchard county who were to gain the next score as a foul on the advancing Zion Mc Kernan was punished when Aaron Mc Partland steered the award between the posts to reduce the deficit again to the minimum.
Antrim were soon back on the positive trail again and a well laid approach involving several players opened the way for Ryan Mc Quillan to finish in style with a fine point and when Eoin Dixon followed with a goal they looked in charge.
Another well laid approach opened the way to the Armagh posts and although net minder Cathal Doherty did well to block Callum Higgins path to the net the advancing full forward responded well return to Antrim were five clear, 2-05 to 0-06 at the end of the third quarter.
If the home support had entertained any notion that the Saffron lads were on the road to victory, it would not prove that simple.
Antrim net-minder Rory Gribbin had to be on his toes and at his best as he tipped a blistering Oisin Grimley effort up and over the bar in the 55th minute but although the visitors continued to press right to to the end, which included a hefty period of ‘injury time’ , they held on for a deserved two point victory.
Referee Mark Dorrian (Donegal)
Rory Gribbin, Shane Hinfey, Daniel Mc Nicholl, Logan Fleming, Conal Mc Girr, Shaun O’ Callaghan, Eoin Gough, Eunan Quinn, Darragh Doherty, Ryan Mc Quillan (0-03), Sean Duffin, Ronan Mc Killop (1-01), Sean Duffin, Barra Mc Caffrey, Eoin Dixon (1-01), Callum Higgins
Conor Johnston for D Doherty
Aiden Mc Erlean for E Dixon
Conleth O’ Toole for R Mc Quillan
Hugh Hannon for C O’ Toole
Cathal Doherty, Jack Mc Clelland, Adam Greeley, Ruairi Mc Cann, Fergal Curran, Cathal Agnew, Zion Mc Kernan, Aaron Mc Partland (0-03), Sean Conlon, Darragh Mc Mullan (0-01), James O’ Hara, Luke Mc Keever (0-01), Oran Mc Caffrey, Ciaran Donnelly (0-03).
Oisin Grimley (0-02) Jack Walsh (0-02)