Allianz National Football League Division Four
Antrim 2-14-0-13 Waterford
Kevin Herron reports from Dundalk Geradlines
Antrim missed out on promotion to Division 3 of the Allianz National Football League but ended the campaign with a 2-14-0-13 win over Waterford thanks to goals in each half from Odhran Eastwood and James McAuley at Dundalk this afternoon.
The scenario was simple ahead of throw-in, Antrim needed to defeat Waterford and hope for a Sligo win over Limerick and a winner from the game between Wexford and Wicklow- not as easy set of permutations.
The introduction of Michael McCann in the 29th minute brought a bit of calmness to proceedings while his brother Tomas gave the Waterford defence plenty of problems when he came into the fray with 20 minutes remaining.
However it was St. Enda’s man, James McAuley who just edged Mick McCann for the man of the match accolade, the sweeper setting up the opening goal for Odhran Eastwood in the first half and then getting forward for a second himself late in the game to kill off the Waterford challenge.
Waterford opened the scoring on a breezy afternoon in Dundalk through Stephen Curry after some smart play from Shane Ahearne but Paddy McBride immediately responded at the other end.
Paddy Cunningham then kicked Antrim ahead but Dermot McAleese deserves a lot of credit for chasing down a ball that looked destined to go over the side-line and then switching the play to Odhran Eastwood in the build-up.
Less than 60-seconds later and the Saffrons had the opening goal of the contest, Paddy McBride linked-up with James McAuley whose thunderous driven shot crashed off the crossbar and Odhran Eastwood bundled the ball to the net to give his side a 1-02-0-01 lead.
A further free from Paddy Cunningham stretched the lead but Waterford came back into proceedings before the water-break through well taken scores from Tony Grey and Conor Murray.
A second goal was almost in the offering for Antrim beforehand as Eastwood and Niall Delargy combined with Delargy slipping in Marc Jordan who drew a smart save from Aaron Beresford in the Waterford goal.
Antrim tagged on three scores on the trot after the water-break with Odhran Eastwood conjuring a fine angled point and Paddy Cunningham adding two further points to his tally- a fantastic sideline kick which kissed the large post and a simple point from an Eastwood offload.
Michael Curry and Stephen Curry replied for Waterford but Cunningham made it three points on the spin to keep 5-points the difference (1-07-0-05).
Waterford ended the half in the ascendancy with Tony Grey and Fearghal O’Cuirrin pointing in-between a fine Dermot McAleese point to ensure their side trailed 1-08-0-07 at the break.
Waterford picked up where they left off before the break with three scores in succession. Substitute Jack Mullaney made an immediate impact, Conor Murray hit a delightful point with Jason Curry following up with another.
Mick McCann eventually got Antrim off the mark after almost 15-minutes of play, but Jason Curry hit a second point in quick succession to leave his side trailing by a single point (1-09-0-11).
A converted free from Tomas McCann moved Antrim two ahead again and McCann would play his part in his side’s second-goal, slipping in James McAuley who slotted past Beresford to make it 2-10-0-11.
The Saffrons appeared to be in control again with Mick McCann adding a second point of the afternoon just before the hour-mark.
Waterford kept themselves in contention though through points from Jack Mullaney and Tony Grey but the last three points fell to Antrim as Paddy McBride doubled his account for the afternoon and Tomas McCann added two further points – one from a free and the other from play.
The Déise ended the game with 14-men as Stephen Curry was adjudged to have hit out at Ryan Murray off the ball, it had no bearing on the end result though as Antrim ran out 2-14-0-13 winners.
Antrim: O Kerr, P Gallagher, D Lynch, K O’Boyle, D McAleese (0-01), J McAuley (1-00), N Delargy, C Duffin, M Jordan, K Quinn, P Healy, M Sweeney, P Cunningham (0-05, 0-02f), O Eastwood (1-01), P McBride (0-02). Subs: M McCann (0-02) for M Jordan (29 mins), P McCormick for K Quinn (42 mins), T McCann (0-03, 0-02f) for P Cunningham (50 mins), R McCann for M Sweeney (53 mins), R Murray for C Duffin (65 mins).
Waterford: A Beresford, S O’Donavan, B Looby, A Jones, R Flynn, M Curry (0-01), T Grey (0-03), S Ahearne, J Curry (0-02), C Murray (0-02), D Corcoran, B Lynch, F O’Cuirrin (0-01), D Hallinan, S Curry (0-02). Subs: D Guiry for D Hallinan (HT), J Mullaney for S Aherane (HT), W Hahessy for A Jones (HT), D Ryan for R Flynn (53 mins).
Referee: Paul Faloon (An Dun)