NFL Division 4
Antrim v Louth
Have you ever been on one of those roller coaster rides? For this punter they always have been an exhilarating but somewhat frightening experience. For those of us who were fortunate enough to have been at Corrigan Park yesterday for the Antrim v Louth Division 4 North game the experience was much the same. Certainly it was for this punter.
The game and some of the refereeing decisions saw Antrim supporters (and probably Sligo supporters) go through the ups and downs of the rollercoaster and when referee Conor Dourneen from Cavan blew the full-time whistle it was a bit like the feeling you get when you step down from the rollercoaster onto solid ground.
In all my time in following football, or hurling, I rarely remember a game with so many twists and turns. The Saffron’s conceded three penalties, were four down playing into a second half wind and came back to take the lead through a Eunan Walsh goal with time almost up and then conceded the third of their penalties.
As those in the Antrim camp bemoaned the performance of the man in the middle, the Saffrons launched one last attack with substitute, Paddy Cunningham screwing over a point from an almost impossible angle to give Enda McGinley’s side both points.
To be fair to yesterday’s referee, and in the heat of battle I was one of his greatest critics, but the Cavan official was the victim of one of the new rules which states that a foul which prevents a goal scoring opportunity inside the 20 meter line including the semi-circle, as I understand it is a penalty.
I don’t suppose that many of those attending understood the complexities of the rule and with the benefit of hindsight he was probably correct with the majority of his decisions but was spared from further criticism by Cunningham’s magic strike.
It was all handshakes at the end of a bruising encounter and while there are aspects of Antrim’s performance that are sure to come in for scrutiny by the Saffron management team there was also much to feel satisfied with.
Their refusal to bend the knee when everything seemed to be going against them and that remarkable comeback when trailing by four points into the breeze suggests that they are going in the right direction under their new management and they have now qualified for the league semi-final with one round of games still to play.
Leitrim will travel to Corrigan on Sunday with nothing to play for but pride but cannot be taken for granted and in the past fixtures that Antrim have been expected to win have proved to be banana skins.
Still for now the rollercoaster has come to a halt and this punter was glad to get his feet firmly back on the ground at the final whistle.