Antrim seal Division 3 place

Allianz Football League Division 4 Semi-Final

Waterford 0-11 Antrim 1-15

For the first time since 2017, Antrim are back in division 3 of the Allianz football league. Odhran Eastwood’s 65th minute goal sealed the deal on a scorching hot day in Dungarvan, and it’s no more than Enda McGinlay’s chargers deserve.

Waterford never raised a flag, green or white in the opening 23 minutes, and Antrim took full advantage to open up a seven point lead. There were a few nervous moments for the Saffron’s but always able to tag the points to keep the home team at bay, and once Eastwood found the net, the game was as good as over.

Antrim’s start was as blistering as the midday sun and within 13 minutes they led by four points, 0-4 to no score.

Antrim manager Enda McGinley celebrates his team’s win with veteran kitman Roy McLarnon

Ruairi McCann opened the scoring with barely 30seconds on the clock from a mark before Niall Mckeever’s defence splitting ball created an opportunity for Conor Small, and the Creggan man duly accepted to double Antrim’s lead in the third minute.

Waterford had little in reply to the Saffron’s quick opening. Odhran Eastwood opened his account on 12 minutes following good work from Marc Jordan before McCann landed his second mark as Antrim made their dominance show on the scoreboard.

 The homeside created very little in the opening quarter but Luke Mulholland did save well from Darragh Corcoran on a rare occasion when the Waterford forward got the better of Peter Healy.

After the waterbreak Antrim were forced into a change as Dermot McAleese retired injured and was replaced by Eunan Walsh. But the visitors kept up the pressure and further scores from Patrick McBride, Conor Murray and Eastwood opened up a 0-7 to 0-0 lead after 23 minutes.

The home team eventually got on the scoresheet through a Jason Curry 45 in the 25th minute and this kick started a mini revival as Dylan Guiry and Dermot Ryan kicked two points in as many minutes before Curry kicked a fourth Waterford score from a free.

However, Antrim recovered from this rocky spell and points from Conor and Ryan Murray ensured Antrim still enjoyed a healthy five point lead at the turnaround, 0-9 to 0-4.

The Murray brothers Conor and Ryan celebrate at the end

Both sides traded early points at the start of the second half before a quick fire double from Corcoran and Curry cut Antrim’s lead to four ten minutes into the second half, 0-12 to 0-8 as Waterford started to grow in confidence.

But Antrim didn’t panicked and in an effort to kill the game off they forced Paudie Hunt in the home goal to twice deny what looked like certain Antrim goals. Firstly, a great block prevented Conor Murray before a full stretch save stopped Marc Jordan’s effort, before an Eastwood free settled Antrim again.

Odhran Eastwood celebrates scoring the game clinching goal

First half replacement Walsh put six between them before another, Adam Loughran set up Eastwood for the game’s only major.

Loughran was only introduced minutes beforehand and as his run sucked in the cover he played in the Naomh Eanna marksman who coolly side stepped Hunt to blast to the net and seal the victory and promotion.

Teams & Scorers

Waterford: Paudie Hunt, Sean Boyce, John Elsted, Darach Ó’Cathasaigh, Michael Curry, Brian Looby, Dermot Ryan (0-1), Tommy Prendergast, Jason Curry (0-4 2f, 1 45), Michael Kiely (0-1), Conor Murray, David Hallinan, Stephen Curry, Dylan Guiry (0-1), Darragh Corcoran (0-1).

Subs: Jason Gleeson (0-2) for S Curry (43) Aaron Jones for D Hallinan (47), Mark Cummins (0-1) for S Boyce (51), Shane O’Meara for D Guiry (62)

Antrim: Luke Mulholland, Eoghan McCabe, Ricky Johnston, Peter Healy, Dermot McAleese, James Laverty, Marc Jordan, Niall McKeever, Conor Stewart, Ryan Murray (0-2 1f), Conor Murray (0-1), Patrick McBride (0-1), Odhran Eastwood (1-5 2f), Ruairi McCann (0-4 2Marks), Conor Small (0-1).

Subs: Eunan Walsh (0-1) for D McAleese (20), Kevin Small for C Murray (43), Tomas McCann for C Small (48), James McAuley for M Jordan (63), Adam Loughran for R Murray (63), Justin Crozier for N McKeever (71), Patrick Cunningham for O Eastwood (71).

Referee: Mr David Murnane (Cork).

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