Last gasp heartache as Antrim let it slip at Corrigan

Allianz NFL Division 3

Antrim 3-9 Fermanagh 2-13

For the second time in their last three games Antrim let what looked like a safe lead slip from their grasp when they lost to Fermanagh by a point at Corrigan Park. Thirteen minutes into the second half the Saffrons led 3-7 to 0-8 after Peter Healey fired home their third goal following a defence splitting build up but they would add only two further points.

For the second week running, Fermanagh produced a stunning finish against an Ulster rival to keep their Division 3 promotion hopes alive as Antrim were left the victim of the smash-and-grab which left them shell shocked.

Delight for Antrim as Odhran Eastwood fires the ball to the Fermanagh net to give the Saffrons a five point lead at the break

Fermanagh came back strongly and  Ultan Kelm’s goal re-energised Kieran Donnelly’s side but Pat Shivers point with six minutes of normal time remaining moved Antrim four in front and they appeared to have weathered the storm.

However Sean Quigley fisted home from a Garvan Jones delivery to level and with time almost up a turnover was punished by Conor McGee as Fermanagh took the most unlikely of wins.

There was little between the sides during the opening exchanges with both sides defending deeply and relying on the break

The Ernesiders edged the early exchanges, but were finding it hard to turn possession into scores before Aidan Breen kicked them into a seventh-minute lead with Conor Stewart levelling at the other end and Antrim were much more direct when they got possession.

Antrim’s James McAuley and Ruairi McCann battle it out with a Fermanagh defender during the first half

The sides traded points with Ultan Kelm on target for the Ernsiders and Ruairi McCann replying for  Antrim before Mick Byrne edged the saffron ahead from a ‘45’.

Points from Shane McGullion and Lee Cullen edged Feremanagh back in front but Marc Jordan replied with the outside of his boot following a lung-bursting support run to level again.

With the sides locked at 0-05 each, Antrim enjoyed a fine end to the half with Colm McLarnon converting a mark and then Creggan’s Ruairi McCann finishing off a counter-attack to move the home side two in front.

The Saffrons were enjoying a bit of momentum and Patrick Finnegan won a kick-out and Antrim attacked at pace, working the ball into Pat Shivers who steadied and passed into Odhran Eastwood to finish low and make it 1-07 to 0-05 at half time.

Antrim midfielder Conor Stewart runs at the Fermanagh defence

Fermanagh introduced Sean Quigley at the break and a much more direct approach brought them to life as they rattled off the first three points and seemed to have grabbed the momentum, but the home side found a decisive response.

A long ball into Aghagallon’s Ruairi McCann saw him gather and offload to Marc Jordan who found Joseph Finnegan inside and the centre-back finished to the net superbly.

Three minutes later and from a similar scenario Finnegan turned provider for team captain Peter Healy to lash home and the gap was out to eight points and Antrim looked on their way to their second win of the season.

Quigley almost hit back with a goal of his own immediately after, but his snapshot rebounded off the post but Garvan Jones responded with a point and Ultan Kelm burst through for a superb goal after his side had forced a turnover.

Conor Stewart responded for Antrim with a point, but momentum seemed to be with the visitors and Mick Byrne saved superbly from Kelm and then again from Quigley’s rebound with a follow-up shot for a point blocked down and things appeared to have turned in favour of the home side.

Antrim players celebrate after Peter Healy scores their third goal

A Pat Shivers point looked like the insurance score to put four between them, but Fermanagh were growing in confidence as Garvan Jones pulled one back from a free and then in the third minute of added time, he floated in a free with Quigley rising to direct the ball home.

Fermanagh’s tails were now up and they pushed up on the Antrim kick-out with McGee intercepting an attempted fisted pass before racing clear and fisting over for the winner, four minutes into injury time.

Heart breaking for an Antrim team who produced some excellent passages of football throughout the game and were the better side for long periods but once again they failed to see out the game and it’s something that Andy McEntee and his management team will look to address this week as they face a trip to Mullingar to face Westmeath.

Fermanagh super sub celebrates after scoing his team’s late goal

Antrim: Michael Byrne (0-01, 45); Eoghan McCabe, Oisin Lenehan, James McAuley; Peter Healy (1-00), Jospeh Finnegan (1-00), Marc Jordan (0-01); Kevin Small, Conor Stewart (0-02); Patrick Finnegan, Ruairi McCann (Creggan) (0-01), Colm McLarnon (0-01 mark); Pat Shivers (0-02, 1 free), Ruairi McCann (Agahgallon) (0-01 mark), Odhran Eastwood (1-00)

Subs: Dominic McEnhill for O Eastwood (58), Cathal Hynds for K Small (58), Patrick McCormick for M Jordan (67), Colum Duffin for C McLarnon (70+2)

Fermanagh: Sean McNally; Luke Flanagan, Lee Cullen (0-01), Cian McManus; Ronan McCaffrey, Jonathan Cassidy, Shane McGullion (0-01); Ryan Jones, Brandon Horan; Josh Largo-Ennis, Ryan Lyons (0-01 free), Ultan Kelm (1-02); Conor McShea, Darragh McGurn, Aidan Breen (0-03)

Subs: Sean Quigley (1-00) for D McGurn (HT), Conor McGee (0-01) for C McShea (43), Garvan Jones (0-03, 1 free) for R Lyons (46), Ciaran Corrigan (0-01) for A Breen (58), Eoghan McManus for R McCaffrey (58), Fionan O’Brien for C McManus (head injury 64)

Referee: Kieran Eannetta (Tyrone)

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