Coen cuts loose in superb second-half performance as Sligo dump the Saffrons out
Sligo 0-22 Antrim 3-7
The importance of retaining all 15 players was never so clear as in this Round 1A qualifier at Markevicz Park on Saturday, as Antrim collapsed under incessant attacking waves that saw Sligo produce 12 points without reply.
The sending off of Antrim's Jack Dowling in the 43rd minute was followed by a second Saffrons goal to put them four points clear.
However, instead of accepting defeat, Sligo finally cut loose and produced some outstanding attacking play to take any chance of victory away from their tiring visitors.
After the red card - which Dowling earned when he collided dangerously with Mark Breheny - Sligo kicked 15 points and only fired one wide, which greatly improved their scoring rate after eight first-half wides.
Manager Niall Carew was delighted with their comeback.
"I'm thrilled with that, anyone who wouldn't be would want their head examined. But we have the forwards to do it, we have a good team here," said Carew.
"We didn't panic because there were 20 minutes left when they went four points up and I felt the players didn't panic. We had a good championship win in New York and I felt we played very well against Mayo, but a couple of calls went against us. Other than that I'd be very pleased."
Carew was of the opinion that Dowling deserved to be sent off, but Antrim joint manager Gearoid Adams felt it was clumsy rather than reckless.
"Knowing big Jack, I don't think it was. We'll probably see that later on. It looked as if it was accidental," he said.
"He went for the ball. At most, I thought it was a yellow. That's my opinion. Myself and Frank (Fitzsimons) will have a good think and we'll meet with the county board. It's their decision, but we'd hope to take this team to get ourselves back out of Division 4 and push on."
Stephen Coen did huge damage with his eight-point haul, but it was Adrian Marren that lifted his side with two early points in that run of scores.
In the first-half, when they spluttered slightly, Sligo had John Kelly and Patrick O'Connor to thank for keeping them in touch. O'Connor kicked two lovely points, while Kelly's class helped Sligo to a 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead.
"I was a bit disappointed in the first-half," said Carew. "We attacked the middle too often, our plan was to flood the wings, but we got it right."
The two goals either side of the red card, from a CJ McGourty penalty and a fortunate Matthew Fitzpatrick effort gave Antrim the lead, but they would only kick one point in the second-half, while Paddy McBride bagged a consolation goal.
Scorers - Sligo: S Coen 0-8 (4f); A Marren 0-5 (3f); P O'Connor, N Murphy, P Hughes 0-2; M Breheny (1f), E McHugh, K McDonnell 0-1.
Antrim: CJ McGourty 1-2 (1-0pen, 2f); P McBride 1-1; M Fitzpatrick 1-0; C Murray 0-3; T McCann 0-1.
Sligo: A Devaney 7; R Donovan 7, E McHugh 8, C Harrison 7; Keelan Cawley 7, B Egan 8, N Ewing 7; A McIntyre 7, P O'Connor 8; J Kelly 9, M Breheny 6, N Murphy 6; S Coen 8, P Hughes 7, A Marren 7. Subs: K McDonnell 7 for McHugh (35+8), Kyle Cawley 8 for Breheny (44), G O'Kelly-Lynch 7 for Keelan Cawley (53), P Healy 6 for Sweeney (56 BC), S Gilmartin 6 for Kelly (63), S Henry for Hughes (67), D Cummins for O'Connor (68), P Laffey for Harrison (76).
ANTRIM: C Kerr 6 (c); N Delargy 6, P Gallagher 7, C Hamill 6; P McBride 7, D Lynch 6, P McAleer 7; S McVeigh 6, S Beatty 7; C Murray 8, M Fitzpatrick 8, M Sweeney 7; CJ McGourty 6, T McCann 6, R McCann 6. Subs: K O'Boyle 8 for McAleer (10-37 temp), O Gallagher 7 for R McCann (25), J Dowling 5 for Beatty (35+4), R Murray 5 for T McCann (62), B Bradley 5 for McGourty (62).
Ref - Fergal Kelly (Longford).