Murray points Antrim to opening day victory in Haggardstown

Allianz National Football League – Division Four North

Louth 3-8 Antrim 1-15

Enda McGinley got his career as Antrim manager of to the perfect start when his battling Saffrons came from behind to pip Mickey Harte’s Louth at St. Geraldine’s GAC, Haggardstown today.

The new man in charge of the Antrim footballers may have raised a few eyebrows with the inclusion of three of last year’s U20 side in his starting line-up but the former Errigal Ciaran man got it spot on with Michael Byrne, Conor Stewart and Adam Loughran all making useful contributions to this Antrim victory.

It was Lamh Dhearg’s Ryan Murray who provided the telling scores however, hitting six points over the hour including the winner in the 74th minute before being sent off following a yellow card and an earlier black which saw him sin-binned in the minutes leading up to half time.

Louth boss Mickey Harte must have felt his side had done enough to claim the two points when captain Sam Mulroy plundered his side’s third goal of the game with five minutes of normal time remaining to put the hosts two clear.

However, Antrim showed great courage and determination to respond with a late flurry of points with Murray leading the charge and substitute Eunan Walsh weighing in with a superb effort.

Antrim had eased into the lead at the first water break thanks to a brilliantly-struck goal from wing-back Dermot McAleese while Declan Byrne’s point following a wonderful dummy solo was the pick of Louth’s early points.

Antrim’s Dermot McAleese fires in Antrim’s goal during the Saffrons win over Louth in Saturday’s National Football League at Dundalk Pic by John McIlwaine

The hosts were back on level terms on 27 minutes when Declan Lynch looked to be harshly adjudged to have fouled Declan Byrne and referee Barry Tiernan awarded the penalty.

Antrim goalkeeper Michael Byrne, went full length in an attempt to save Mulroy’s penalty but the Louth ace’s spot kick crept inside the post. Conor Murray pulled one back for the Saffrons but they were caught at the back when Ciaran Keenan played Sean Marry through on goal and the corner-forward beat Byrne with a fine strike.

Things went from bad to worse for McGinley’s side when Ryan Murray was sin-binned for dissent, but elder brother Conor managed to reduce the deficit to two points on the stroke of half-time.

The third quarter was littered with errors from both sides as the respective managers emptied their benches but it was McGinley who got the greater reward for his substitutions with both Eoin McCabe and Eunan Walsh firing over vital points.

Antrim James Laverty in action during the Saffrons win over Louth in Saturday’s National Football League at Dundalk Pic by John McIlwaine

Antrim appeared to getting the upper hand and their incredible work-rate and team play was causing the opposition a lot of problems but they were caught with a swift counter with Mulroy racing clear to rifle a fine shot past Byrne to give his side a 3-8 to 1-12 advantage on 65 minutes.

The Rossa clubman redeemed himself moments later when he denied Mulroy a hat-trick while substitute John Clutterbuck missed a glorious chance from close range.

Antrim took full advantage of Louth’s misfortune and finished strongly, kicking the final three points of the game to make a winning start to their Division Four campaign.

Louth: Martin McEnaney; Dan Corcoran, Dermot Campbell, Donal McKenny; Liam Jackson, Anthony Williams, Eoghan Callaghan; Bevan Duffy, Ciaran Byrne; Andy McDonnell, Ciaran Keenan, Ciaran Downey; Sean Marry, Sam Mulroy, Declan Byrne.

Subs: Emmet Carolan for Corcoran (43), Tommy Duffin for Marry (54mins), Leonard Grey for Jackson (62), Ross Nally for Declan Byrne (62), John Clutterbuck for McKenny (66), Eoghan Duffy for Bevan Duffy (73).

Louth Scorers: Sam Mulroy 2-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1 ’45), Sean Marry 1-0, Ciaran Keenan 0-2, Declan Byrne 0-2, Anthony Willams 0-1, Ciaran Downey 0-1.

Antrim: Michael Byrne; James McAuley, Declan Lynch, Peter Healy, Marc Jordan, James Laverty, Dermot McAleese; Conor Stewart, Niall McKeever; Ryan Murray, Adam Loughran, Ruairi McCann (Creggan): Odhran Eastwood, Kevin Small, Conor Murray.

Subs: Paddy McBride for McKeever (50), Niall Delargy for Lynch (54), Eoghan McCabe for Jordan (60), Paddy Cunningham for Small (62), Eunan Walsh for McAleese (72).

Antrim scorers: Ryan Murray 0-6 (0-4fs), Dermot McAleese 1-0, Odhran Eastwood 0-2 (0-2fs), Conor Murray 0-2, Paddy Cunningham 0-1, Marc Jordan 0-1, Ruairi McCann 0-1 (0-1 ’45), Eoghan McCabe 0-1, Eunan Walsh 0-1.

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