SF Qualifier: Yeats men overcome 14-man Saffrons

17 June 2017

Patrick O'Connor starred in midfield for Sligo against Antrim.
©INPHO/Donall Farmer.

Sligo came from behind to inflict a 0-22 to 3-7 defeat on Antrim at Markievicz Park.

The visitors led by 2-6 to 0-8 ten minutes into the second half, after Matthew Fitzpatrick had bagged their second goal, but the northerners were down to 14 men at this stage and the Yeats County reeled off twelve unanswered points to effectively book their passage to the second round of the Qualifiers as they led by eight going into added time.

The sides were level six times during the course of a very enjoyable opening period but Paddy O’Connor’s point on the stroke of the short whistle ensured the winners of a narrow 0-7 to 0-6 interval advantage.

Adrian Marren and Niall Murphy hit the hosts’ first two scores, with Conor Murray nailing a brace of frees in between. It was three each at the end of the first quarter and Marren and CJ McGourty (2) traded frees as the Saffrons edged ahead. But late points from Mark Breheny (free) and O’Connor (2) had the home side back in front before the turnaround.

The northerners made a perfect start to the second half when McGourty netted from the penalty spot after Owen Gallagher had been dragged down – 1-6 to 0-7 after 38 minutes. The tide turned emphatically against the visitors four minutes later when they were reduced to 14 men after substitite Jack Dowling was dismissed for a late tackle on Breheny (with Sligo converting the resultant free), but the visitors nevertheless struck for another massive score – a Matthew Fitzpatrick goal, as they moved further ahead.

But Sligo now took the game by the scruff of the neck…

Marren’s free had the Connacht county back within three, 2-6 to 0-9, and further scores from Stephen Coen (free) and Marren meant that the minimum separated the sides going into the fourth quarter.

Even without the injured Breheny, the 15 men continued to dominate and they soon led thanks to Coen (free) and Pat Hughes; Marren clipped over their sixth successive point eleven minutes from the end as they led by 0-14 to 2-6.

It was a-point-a-minute-stuff as further points followed from Coen, Marren, Hughes, Murphy and substitute Kevin McDonnell and Sligo won at a canter. Paddy McBride netted a late consolation goal for Antrim but there was time for Coen to grab his seventh and eighth second-half points for Niall Carew’s impressive charges as they progressed comfortably in the end.

Sligo - A Devaney; R Donovan, E McHugh (0-1), C Harrison; Keelan Cawley, B Egan, N Ewing; A McIntyre, P O'Connor (0-2); J Kelly, M Breheny (0-1f), N Murphy (0-2); S Coen (0-8, 4f), P Hughes (0-2), A Marren (0-5, 3f). Subs: K McDonnell (0-1) for E McHugh, Kyle Cawley for M Breheny, G O’Kelly Lynch for Keelan Cawley, S Gilmartin for J Kelly, S Henry for P Hughes, D Cummins for P O’Connor, P Laffey for C Harrison.

Antrim - C Kerr; N Delargy, P Gallagher, C Hamill; P McBride (1-1), D Lynch, P McAleer; S McVeigh, S Beatty; C Murray (0-3), M Fitzpatrick (1-0), M Sweeney; CJ McGourty (1-2, 1-0pen, 0-2f), T McCann (0-1), R McCann. Subs: O Gallagher for R McCann, J Dowling for S Beatty, R Murray for T McCann, B Bradley for CJ McGourty, P Healy for M Sweeney (BC).

Referee - F Kelly.