Aghagallon Armada sink Leitrim at Corrigan Park

Tailteann Cup Round 1

Antrim 3-18 Leitrim 2-12

The Aghagallon Armada, Adam Loughran and Ruairi McCann combined to sink Leitrim in this opening game of the Tailteann Cup at Corrigan Park on Sunday. Loughran justified his selection in the Antrim starting line with two second half goals and in between his St. Mary’s colleague, McCann climbed to palm home another to put the home side in control.

Last year Antrim travelled to Carrick on Shannon in the first round of the Tailteann Cup and suffered defeat and it wasn’t looking too good for the Saffrons on Sunday as late replacement Barry McNulty rose to meet Keith Beirne’s dropping shot to palm home in the 3rd minute.

Adam Loughran replied with a point for Antrim and the Saffrons looked to be in for a goal but Marc Jordan’s shot was saved by Nevin O’Donnell.

Pearce Dolan replied for Andy Moran’s side but Antrim again came tantalisingly close to a goal when a great delivery from Loughran saw Aghagallon’s Ruairi McCann get a touch but the ball crept over.

Creggan’s Ruairi McCann, Conor Stewart and Michael Byrne (45) hit unanswered points as the Antrim charge gained momentum but Byrne was called into action to deny Beirne at close range and the Rossa clubman would make further vital stops later in the half from McNulty and then Darragh Rooney at point-blank range.

Antrim looked susceptible to conceding further goals at this stage as Leitrim were able to carve open the Antrim defence too easily and always had a reply to Antrim scores as Mark Plunkett and a brace from Rooney found the target with Dominic McEnhill keeping the score board ticking at the other end from frees.

The Saffrons were beginning to get on top however with Marc Jordan producing a number of defence splitting runs and they looked in for a goal when Aghagallon’s Ruairi McCann’s low shot was stopped on the line by O’Donnell in the Leitrim goals.

The visitors were still giving as good as they got with just a point separating the sides as half time approached after a superb score from Beirne but Ronan Boyle would finish a great Antrim move to send Antrim into a 0-10 to 1-05 lead at the interval.

The Saffrons stepped it up a notch on the restart with points from the impressive duo of Loughran and McEnhill, but were then caught again when Aidan Flynn’s inviting ball from the right to the back post saw Jack Heslin rise to fist home with Antrim keeper Michael Byrne hurt as the players challenged.

Byrne was able to resume after treatment and Antrim returned to the offensive with Ruairi McCann pointing, and although Leitrim replied with points it was Antrim who struck a decisive blow when Patrick Finnegan placed Adam Loughran who fired home.

Andy McEntee’s side were now playing with confidence and moving the ball around with conviction and Paddy McBride set up Ruairi McCann with an astute pass and the Aghagallon man palmed to the net.

The home side continued to press and struck with a third goal and again it was Loughran who was on the end of a good ball for McBride and he stepped inside to crash to the net to end any hope of a Leitrim comeback.

To their credit, the visitors kept going to the end with Paul Keaney kicking four when introduced, but they needed much more with Antrim out of sight and Patrtck McCormick became Antrim’s ninth name on the score sheet to complete an excellent start in the competition for Andy McEntee’s men.

The Meath man will be pleased by his side’s performance with Ronan Boyle, Adam Loughran and Dominic McEnhill all in the starting line-up and all three made telling contributions while Cathal Hynds and Cormac McGettigan saw game time and Dermot McAleese returned to the side after a lengthy injury.

Antrim: Michael Byrne (0-02, 1f, 1 45); Ronan Boyle (0-01), Peter Healy (0-01), James McAuley; Paddy McBride, Joseph Finnegan, Dermott McAleese; Jack Dowling, Conor Stewart (0-01); Patrick Finnegan, Adam Loughran (2-03), Ruairi McCann (0-01); Marc Jordan, Ruairi McCann (1-02), Dominic McEnhill (0-06, 5f)

Subs: Patrick McCormick (0-01) for J McAuley (27), Cathal Hynds for J Dowling (47), Pat Shivers for R McCann (Aghagallon, 66), Odhran Eastwood for P Finnegan (66), Cormac McGettigan for M Jordan (70+2)

Leitrim: Nevin O’Donnell; Paddy Maguire, Mark Diffley, Conor Farrell; James Rooney (0-01), Shane Quinn, Aiden Flynn; Pearce Dolan (0-01), Donal Wrynn; Darragh Rooney (0-03), Keith Beirne (0-01), Mark Plunkett (0-01); Jack Heslin (1-01), Barry McNulty (1-00), Domhnaill Flynn

Subs: Tom Prior for J Rooney (54), Oisin McLoughlin for K Beirne (54), Paul Keaney (0-04, 2f) for D Flynn (57), Cillian McGloin for C Farrell (62), Stephen McLoughlin for M Plunkett (70)

Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)

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