Allianz NFL Division Four (round five)
Antrim 2-21 Limerick 1-12
Antrim put themselves firmly back in the promotion race when they proved much too good for visiting Limerick with a hugely impressive performance at Portglenone today.
Lenny Harbinson’s charges had blotted their copy book somewhat last time out when they had to dig deep to earn a share of the spoils with Carlow but although they trailed the Treaty men by a couple of points at the break, a 41st minute goal from Odhran Eastwood saw them hit the front and they pulled away to win decisively.
Limerick did have the benefits of the brisk breeze in the opening half and took the lead through an early goal but the home side soon settled to the task on hand and a couple of points from Colum Duffin ensured parity by the 15th minute.
Limerick took control in the central zone with the towering Tommy Griffin and Tommie Childs dominating but the Saffrons found a response and despite the strong breeze, they were only two in arrears, 1-09 to 0-10 at the interval.
Antrim made a bright start to the second half as Patrick Bride pointed and a well laid counter strike a few minutes later saw Odhran Eastwood find the net and the tide had turned and the home side had were ahead for the first time and it was a lead they were not to lose.
Antrim were off and running and to the delight of the attendance they were on the cusp of a hugely impressive thirty minutes of dominance.
The unbeaten league leaders did their utmost to repel the waves of Antrim attacks but in the event a 35th minute Padraig Scanlon point was to prove their penultimate contribution on the scoreboard.
The home side were on top and when St Enda’s club man Odhran Eastwood grabbed a second goal, courtesy of a strong Colum Duffin approach and a subtle Conor Small delivery they had earned a 2-16 to 1-11 advantage well into the last quarter and that was that.
Limerick attempted to produce a late rally but the home defence were giving nothing away and despite plenty of honest endeavour from the Treaty men their only reward was a solitary point when late replacement Seamus O’ Carrol raised an injury time white flag and Antrim breasted the line good value for a healthy 2-21 to 1-12 winning scoreline.
Pairc O’ Ceallaigh was in excellent condition as Antrim played hosts to Munster based, and top of the table Limerick today.
The home side need maximum points from this one if they were to maintain any hopes of promotion and a good crowd had assembled to cheer on their side.
Limerick were aided by the strong breeze in the opening half and took the lead as Hugh Bourke was placed by Padraig de Burke to raise white and open their account.
Antrim made quick reply as the pace laden Peter Healey made his way forward to strike back but Limerick were soon back on the offensive and a well laid approach involving Iain Corbett and Danny Neville opened the way for Padraig Shannon to fire to the net.
The home side were quick to reply and a point from the hard grafting Conor Murray was followed by a brace from the strong running Colum Duffin, the second was a real gem delivered from long range to see his side draw abreast 0-04 to 1-01with the clock at 15 minutes.
It was tit for tat in the second quarter with the Saffrons strong running game troubling the opposition and score at one end provoked reply at the other and after Padraig de Brun and Patrick Gallagher swapped points Tommy Griffin and Odhran Eastwood followed suit.
The visitors nipped a couple ahead for a time but Patrick McBride replied before a late brace from Hugh Bourke ensured a two point lead, 1-09 to 0-10 for the visitors at the end of a hugely entertaining opening half.
Patrick Mc Bride and Padraig Scanlon swapped points on the restart but it was Antrim who were to take almost complete control as the half went on.
Patrick McBride added another point after being placed by Declan Lynch but Limerick found a response from the resulting kick-out when Tommy Griffin collected in the middle.
The midfielder delivered into the danger area and it looked like they were in for a goal but Michael McCann was in the right place at the right time to clear the danger.
McCann found Conor Murray from his clearance and following a strong run he found Patrick McBride and the Johnnies club man’s cross was finished to the net by Odhran Eastwood and the Saffron’s were on their way.
Conor Murray followed with a further point and although the visitors replied a couple of minutes later through Padraig Scanlon’s it was to prove their penultimate score.
Antrim were in total control with Dermot McAleese providing the pick of the scores to follow which included 0-3 by replacement Paddy Cunningham.
Seamus O’ Carroll ‘s late point for the visitors was very much of the consolation variety with the Antrim breasting the winning line full value for their 2-21 to 1-12 winning scoreline.
This win moves Antrim to within a point of previously unbeaten Limerick and with games to come against Waterford at home and Wicklow away the race for promotion looks like going right down to the wire.
Antrim: Andrew Hasson, Patrick Gallagher (0-01), Ricky Johnston, Mark Gardiner, Declan Lynch, James Mc Auley, Peter Healey, Colum Duffin (0-02), Marc Jordan, Martin Johnston, Patrick Mc Bride (0-07), Niall Delargy, Odhran Eastwood (2-03), Fintan Burke, Conor Murray (0-03)
Michael Mc Cann for M Johnston
Dermot Mc Aleese (0-01) for M Gardiner
Conor Small for F Burke
Paddy Cunningham for M Jordan
Eunan Walsh for N Delargy
Limerick: Donal O’ Sullivan, Paul Maher, Brian Fanning, Michael Donovan, Tony Mc Carthy, Iain Corbett, Robert Childs, Tommy Griffin (0-01), Tommie Childs (0-01), Adrian Enright, Cillian Fahy (0-01), Padraig de Bruin (0-03), Hugh Bourke (0-02), Danny Neville, Padraig Scanlon (1-02)
James Naughton for A Enright
Josh Ryan for T Griffin
Seamus O’ Carrol (0-01) for P Scanlon
Referee P Faloon (An Dun)