SF qualifier: slick Saffrons send woeful Wee County packing

June 08, 2019

Antrim's Ryan Murray looks for a way past James Craven of Louth

Antrim are into the second round of the Qualifiers following a wonderful 2-16 to 1-11 dismantling of Louth in Drogheda.

Matthew Fitzpatrick fired both goals for Lenny Harbinson’s men, who will consequently be in Monday morning’s back-door draw while Louth’s season is well and truly over.

Still reeling from their hammering at the hands of Dublin, the home team – who finished with just 13 men on the field - seemed to implode as the match went on, despite having hit the ground running.

Themselves soundly beaten (by Tyrone) last time out, the northerners came from six points down to carry the narrowest of advantages into the break, 2-5 to 1-7. The Wee County started best and Andy McDonnell’s goal at the midway stage in the first half ensured that their dominance was reflected on the scoreboard as they led by 1-5 to 0-2 at that stage.

However, the Saffrons refused to roll over and, following a Paddy McBride point, Fitzpatrick hammered a shot to the roof of the net to reduce the arrears to just a couple of points with 15 minutes left in the first half.

The comeback was completed seven minutes later when Fitzpatrick burst through a porous Louth defence to again finish high to the net as the visitors went back in front, 2-3 to 1-5.

Niall Delargy made it 2-2 without reply and John Clutterbuck finally got stuttering Louth’s side of the scoreboard moving again three minutes from the short whistle, Declan Byrne quickly equalising, only for Ryan Murray to step forward in stoppage time and ensure his side of a slender half-time lead.

Murray and Fitzpatrick teased the gap out to three within two minutes of the restart, Ryan Burns striking back from a free before Murray’s next point was cancelled out by Conal McKeever, Colum Duffin making it 2-9 to 0-9 off his left boot after 45 minutes.

Paddy McCormick pushed Antrim’s advantage out to four and further strikes from Ruairi Scott and McBride meant the Saffrons were six to the good with a quarter of the match left to play. Louth’s woes were compounded when goalkeeper Fergal Sheeky was shown a straight red card and Byrne was also dismissed for a second yellow-card offence.

McBride delivered Antrim’s sixth successive point and Murray replied to an Emmet Carolan point, late points exchanged as the visiting party claimed a memorable win on the road.

Antrim - P Nugent; P McCormick (0-1), R Johnston, P Gallagher; P McBride (0-3, 1f), D Lynch, N Delargy (0-1); C Duffin (0-2), S Beatty; J McAuley, M Fitzpatrick (2-1), K Quinn; R Murray (0-6, 1f), M McCarry, E Walsh. Subs: R McNulty for J McAuley, C Murray for M McCarry, R Scott (0-2) for S Beatty, F Burke for K Quinn, J Smith for C Duffin, P Branagan for N Delargy.

Louth - F Sheekey; D Corcoran, F Donohoe, J Craven; A Williams, B Duffy (0-1), J Clutterbuck (0-1); T Durnin (0-1), J Califf; A McDonnell (1-1), D Byrne (0-2), C McKeever (0-1); C Downey (0-1), S Mulroy, R Burns (0-2f). Subs: E Duffy for A McDonnell, C Early for J Califf, R Holcroft for C Downey, E Carolan (0-1) for J Craven, C Grimes for S Mulroy, C Lynch for J Clutterbuck.

Referee - M McNally.

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