Antrim face difficult away trip in Tailteann Cup

Wexford v Antrim

Chadwicks Wexford Park 5-30 Saturday

Antrim travel to Wexford on Saturday for what looks like a difficult fixture in the Tailteann Cup round 2 having performed well last week in their opening game of the competition against Leitrim at Corrigan Park.

Antrim recovered from conceding an early goal to the Connaught minnows to rack up a convincing 3-18 to 2-12 win and produced periods of exhilarating attacking football which got an appreciative response from the good crowd that attended.

Adam Loughran was Antrim’s outstanding performer and finished the game with 2-3 with the other goal coming from his Aghagallon clubmate, Ruairi McCann.

Loughran was an outstanding performer for Antrim a couple of years back when they reached the semi-final of the Ulster U20 championship and with Pat Shivers, Ryan Stewart and Cormac McGettigan he has now progressed to the senior side.

This wasn’t his senior debut of course but previous outings have been dogged with injuries but if he can stay injury free then he will surely be a major player for the Saffrons in the coming years.

Ronan Boyle was another who came into the side at right back and the St. Brigid’s man looks like another with a bright future while Dominic McEnhill had his best game in an Antrim shirt and can only get better with more game time.

Marc Jordan was once again outstanding for Antrim and his driving runs from deep opened up the Leitrim defence time and again while Paddy McBride looks like he is getting back to his best after a lengthy injury.

Peter Healey has been another inspirational player for the Saffrons this year and Dermot McAleese made his return following a lengthyt injury while Joseph Finnegan was the latest to have been tried in the problem full-back position and could again line out there at Wexford Park.

Injuries deprived Andy McEntee of the services of Ryan Murray and Kevin Small with Murray likely to miss the rest of the season while long term injuries to Paddy McAleer and Jimmy Gribbin have a way to go before their return to action.

What of Wexford?

While Antrim were turning on the style at Corrigan Park, Saturday’s opponents Wexford were staging a fine second half come-back against Fermanagh at Brewster Park.

Fermanagh had appeared to be in control of the contest as they led 1-10 to 0-7 with 20 minutes remaining before Wexford battled back.

The away side were awarded a penalty which resulted in Fermanagh goalkeeper Sean McNally picking up a black card and although replacement goalkeeper Jack Kelly saved Ben Brosnan’s spot kick, Brosnan made no mistake at the second time of asking to fire to the net.

This really lifted Wexford and in added on time Brosnan knocked over a free to level things at 1-12 apiece.

Still Fermanagh looked to be in the driving seat as the game reached the 50 minute mark but then came Brosnan’s goal to get Wexford back in the tie. Lyons and Cathal Walsh traded points although another Lyons free following a foul on Quigley put two in it in added on time.

Points from Conor Kinsella and a Brosnan free then levelled it up before Fermanagh thought they had won it as Quigley swung over.

But there was to be one final twist as Brooks drilled over the ’45 as it finished 1-13 to 1-13.

The Leinster men will surely have been elated by this result and it should put them in a confident frame of mind as they welcome Antrim to Wexford Park.

Antrim defeated Wexford in the NFL Division 4 in Glenavy in 2020 with Ruairi McCann getting two goals that day and the big Aghagallon man will be hoping to bring his recent good form into Saturday’s encounter.

A year earlier the same sides met at Wexford Park in the league and Wexford were the victors on that occasion, ending Antrim’s promotion chances.

The Saffrons have mixed the good with the bad this season on their travels with a good win away to Tipperary in the league followed by a heavy defeat in Mullingar to Westmeath.

At their best they look capable of beating anyone in the group however and they will need to be at their best on Saturday and if they are, then they are capable of gaining a second Tailteann Cup win.

Antrim v Leitrim: 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)

Wexford v Fermanagh: D Brooks (0-2, 1f, 1 45); C Carty P Hughes (0-1), M Furlong; L Coleman, E Porter, C Walsh (0-1); G Malone (0-1), N Hughes (0-1,mark); R Brooks, E Nolan (0-2), K O’Grady (0-1); R Waters, M Rossiter, B Brosnan (1-3, 3f).

Subs: A Tobin for Waters (h/t), B Molloy for Hughes (50), B Cushe for Furlong (57), J Turbitt for R Brooks (60), C Kinsella (0-1) for Roissiter (67).

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