Sport Gaelic Football

Saturday 24 February 2018

Dougan adds punch to Antrim cause

Antrim 1-13, Carlow 2-9


Antrim's footballers clung on to their championship lives at Casement Park on Saturday, surviving a late surge from Carlow to take their place in round three of the qualifiers.

The home side looked home and dry when leading by five, 1-13 to 1-8, with just three minutes on the clock. But a 25-yard goal from Brendan Murphy, followed by a free from Daniel St Ledger, set up a frantic finish.

In a nervous finale, Carlow had chances to take the game to extra-time, but neither side managed to raise a flag and the Saffrons ran out winners, a victory they deserved on the balance of play.

Conor Murray opened the scoring for Antrim after just 40 seconds. Darragh Foley equalised and the sides were level again when Foley and Tomas McCann swapped frees, Foley converting on 11 minutes to give Carlow the lead.

The Saffrons then began to find some rhythm. Tony Scullion provided the engine power from the half-back line as Antrim added four points without reply, Kevin Niblock, McCann, Gerard O'Boyle and James Loughery putting Liam Bradley's side 0-6 to 0-2 ahead after 31 minutes.

St Ledger closed the gap to three from a free on 35 minutes. Carlow, with Shane Redmond dominant in the middle of the park, closed the gap to the minimum with two more St Ledger frees as Antrim took a 0-6 to 0-5 lead into the break.

St Ledger then grabbed the game's first goal just after the restart to put Carlow in front. The Barrowsiders led until 54th minute when Antrim sub Mark Dougan punched home a long ball from Scullion, and when Paddy Cunningham, Dougan, and O'Boyle all added points, it looked like game over for Carlow, who lost Ed Finnegan to a second yellow card.

But up stepped Brendan Murphy to make a goal from nothing. Carlow tried hard to add to St Ledger's free but Antrim held on for victory.

SCORERS -- Antrim: M Dougan 1-1, P Cunningham 0-3 (1f), T McCann (1f), C Murray, K Niblock, G O'Boyle (1 sl) 0-2 each, J Loughery 0-1. Carlow: D St Ledger 1-4 (4f), Brendan Murphy 1-0, D Foley 0-3 (2f), Brian Murphy (f), T Walsh 0-1 each.

Antrim -- W McSorley; C Brady, R Johnson, K O'Boyle; T Scullion, J Crozier, A Healy; S Burke, A Gallagher; C Murray, T McCann, J Loughery; G O'Boyle, B Herron, K Niblock. Subs: A Douglas for K O'Boyle, P Cunningham for McCann, M Dougan for A Healy, K Brady for B Herron, M Johnson for C Brady.

Carlow -- T O'Reilly; A Murphy, C Lawlor, B Kavanagh; P Cashin, S Redmond, K Nolan; Brendan Murphy, D Foley; P Hickey, E Ruth, E Finnegan; Brian Murphy, W Minchin, D St Ledger. Subs: P McElligott for A Murphy, T Walsh for W Minchin, C Mullins for E Ruth, J Murphy for D Foley, T Bolger for K Nolan.

Ref -- E Kinsella (Laois).

Irish Independent

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