Antrim confirmed their Joe McDonagh Cup final place with a round of games to spare with this emphatic win over Meath at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.
Antrim ...... 7-29
Meath ....... 3-13
Antrim took the game to Meath from the off in mainly favourable overcast conditions and had five goals on the board by half-time. The scoring rate dipped somewhat after the break but it had no impact on the outcome.
Four Antrim players shared in their goal tally but the 67th minute red-carding of the impressive Niall McKenna took some of the gloss of their fourth win from as many outings in the campaign.
Corner-forward Colum Canning took scoring honours for Darren Glesson's men wirh 0-12, from play, frees as well as a trio of 65s. Conor McCann set Antrim on their way with a brace of goals at the town end in the opening six minutes.
Wing-back Paddy Burke netted the third goal with just over 10 minutes on the clock to leave it 3-4 to 0-2. Moments later Meath's top scorer Jack Regan netted a penalty to soften the look of the scoreline.
Antrim's response was seven points in as many minutes. Michael Bradley 17th minute effort was the pick of that sequence. A Regan 20-metre free yielded Meath's second goal. James Kelly's 28th point broke the next Antrim sequence of scores.
Antrim put further distance between themselves and the home side with Burke's second goal while Seann Elliott notched the next three-pointer in first-half stoppage time. At half-time 20 points separated the sides, 5-16 to 2-5.
With the fizz gone from proceedings, the third quarter limped along. More importantly was the absence of the public address system. The contest may have expired but those in attendance deserved to find out changes in personnel, including those made at the break.
Antrim outscored Meath by 1-4 to 0-2 in the third quarter. Eoin O'Neill's 48th minute goal was the visitors sixth such score. Full-back Gerard Walsh pushed forward to send over two points for the Glensmen.
In between those scores sub Eamon O Donnchadha batted home Meath's third goal from a Jack Walsh cross. It was 6-23 to 3-8 with 61 minutes gone. Meath 'keeper denied Antrim another goal with a fine save from Michael Bradley's 69th minute effort.
The highlight of added time was O'Neill's second goal which left 28 points between the sides at the finish.
Scorers: Antrim - Colum Cunning 0-12 (6fs, 3 65s); Conor McCann, Eoin O'Neill 2-1 each, Paddy Burke 2-0; Seann Elliott 1-2; Niall McKenna 0-4; Michael Bradley, Ryan McCambridge, Gerard Walsh 0-2 each; James McNaughton, Joe Maskey, Niall O'Connor 0-1 each.
Meath - Jack Regan 2-7 (1-4 fs, 1-0 pen), Chris Reilly, Kevin Keena 0-2 each; Eamon O Donnchadha 1-0, James Kelly, Stephen Morris 0-1 each.
Antrim - Ryan Elliott; Stephen Rooney, Gerard Walsh, Niall O'Connor; Paddy Burke, Eoghan Campbell, Conal Bohill; Joe Maskey, Michael Bradley; Niall McKenna, Eoin O'Neill, James McNaughton; Conal Cunning, Conor McCann, Sean Elliott. Subs - Scott Walsh for Elliott (47), Matthew Donnelly for Burke (51), Ryan McCambridge for McCann (51),Aaron Crawford for Bohill (58), Phelim Duffin for Campbell (65).
Meath - Charlie Ennis, Brendan McKeon, Sean Geraghty, Patrick Potterton, James Kelly, Darragh Kelly, Stephen Morris, Michael Burke, Padraig O’Hanrahan, Mark O’Sullivan, Jack Regan, Kevin Keena, Mikey Cole, Damien Healy, Chris Reilly. Subs - Jack Walsh for O'Sullivan (ht), Nicky Potterton for O'Hanrahan (ht), Eamon O Donnchadha for Healy 47), Adam O'Connor for Cole (54)
Referee - Chris Mooney (Dublin)