McManus' midfield dominance makes sinking Carlow elementary for Watson
NEIL McMANUS produced a man-of-the-match performance in midfield before Liam Watson's late free sank Carlow at Casement Park.
A McManus free set Martin Scullion on his way to a 12th-minute goal which put Antrim ahead by 1-4 to 0-1.
Carlow powered back with points from Andrew Gaule and Paudie Kehoe (two frees), and on 35 minutes, a Craig Doyle's close-range goal narrowed the gap to just a point.
Watson's stoppage-time point put Antrim 1-6 to 1-4 ahead at the break.
Kehoe, though, pulled back a point on the resumption, and then levelled with a goal on 49 minutes following Antrim points from Simon McCrory and Watson.
Antrim always seemed to have a little edge, particularly in attack, and McManus and Watson pointed frees.
However, it was all square again at 1-10 to 2-7 on 61 minutes, with Andrew Gaule and full-back Shane Kavanagh (free) pointing for Carlow.
Then right on full-time, Watson cracked over the winner for Antrim from yet another free puck.
SCORERS -- Antrim: L Watson 0-4 (0-3f), N McManus 0-3 (0-2f), M Scullion 1-0, S McCrory, S McNaughton 0-2. Carlow: P Kehoe 1-3 (0-3f), C Doyle 1-0, A Gaule 0-2, S Kavanagh (0-1f), M Brennan 0-1.
ANTRIM -- C O'Connell; B McFall, N McGarry, N McAuley; A Graffin, K McKeegan, C Herron; M Scullion, N McManus; S McCrory, C McBride, L Watson; S McNaughton, T McCann, D Hamill. Subs: C McFall for McBride (40), P McGill for Scullion (57).
CARLOW -- D Miley; A Corcoran, S Kavanagh, D Shaw; E Coady, E Nolan, R Coady; C Hughes, D Roberts; R Dunbar, E Byrne, M Brennan; A Gaule, C Doyle, P Kehoe. Subs: D English for Dunbar (h/t), B Lawlor for Kehoe (61).
REF -- E Hasson (Derry).