Clarke leads Saffrons fightback
Antrim fought back from five points down at half-time to defeat Derry at Celtic Park yesterday and make the early running in the division.
The home side excelled in the opening 35 minutes and took the game to Antrim. Gareth O'Kane scored the goal for Derry, while free-taker Ruairi Convery was on target from long range frees.
Antrim found themselves very much second best as Shane Farren caught the eye for the Oakleafers, drilling over two cracking points from acute angles.
However, the visitors were a transformed team after the break. PJ O'Mullan's team hit eight of the first nine scores, including Donal Nugent's 47th minute goal.
Ciaran Clarke was superb, while midfielder Kevin McKernan scored four points from play.
Derry threatened a late rally when top-scorer Convery found the roof of the net with a low-driven free in the 70th minute.
But it was the visitors who finished the stronger, with star men McKernan and Clarke striking late points.
Scorers - Antrim: C Clarke 0-8 (6f), K McKernan 0-4, D Nugent 1-0, E McCloskey 0-3, C Johnston 0-2, J Black, S McCaughan, N McKenna and J McGreevy 0-1 each. Derry: R Convery 1-8 (fs), G O'Kane 1-0, S Farren 0-2, B Quigley and B Laverty 0-1 each.
Antrim - C O'Connell 7; O McFadden 6, N McAuley 8, C McKinley 6; S McCrory 6, C Johnston 7, B McFall 6; K McKernan 9, J Black 7; E McCloskey 9, D Nugent 8, L Watson 6; C Johnston 7, N McKenna 7, C Clarke 9. Subs: J McGreevy for Black (31), B Graham for McFall (33), S McCaughan for McKenna (55), S McAfee for McFadden (67)
Derry - D McDermott 8; E McGuckin 9, C McSorley 8, S McCullagh 7; D McCloskey 7, B Quigley 7, D O'Neill 8; O McCloskey 7, T McCloskey 7; J O'Dwyer 8, M McGuigan 7, G O'Kane 6; S Farren 8, R Convery 9, A Grant 6. Subs: M McGrath for McSorley (43), P Kelly for T McCloskey (51), R Leonard for Quigley (56), B Laverty for O'Kane (61).
Ref - J Keane (Galway).