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Saffrons through after overcoming late scare

Antrim survived a late scare at Casement Park yesterday when 14-man Carlow produced 1-1 without reply in the closing stages to cut the gap to the minimum.

The Saffrons looked like easing into the next round of the All-Ireland qualifiers when five points to the good with four minutes remaining.

However, a Brendan Murphy goal from 25 yards and a Daniel St Ledger free ensured a frantic finale at the Belfast venue, but the home side held on to take their place in tonight's draw.

Conor Murray opened the scoring for Antrim with a well-worked score after just 40 seconds, though Darragh Foley levelled matters for the visitors. The sides were level again when Foley and Tomás 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 0-4 ahead after 31 minutes.

It was Carlow's turn to find their range. St Ledger closed the gap to three from the dead ball on 35 minutes. With Shane Redmond enjoying a period of dominance in the middle of the park, they then got back to within a point of Antrim with two more St Ledger frees.

O'Boyle had an opportunity to extend the Antrim lead on the short whistle but his poor effort sailed wide with Antrim taking a 0-6 to 0-5 lead into the changing rooms.

St Ledger grabbed the game's first goal just after the restart to put Carlow in front. The Barrowsiders had the lead until Antrim sub Mark Dougan fisted home a long ball, 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 on 54 minutes.

But up stepped Brendan Murphy to make a goal from nothing for the visitors. 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 s-l) 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 McElligot for A Murphy, T Walsh for W Minchin, C Mullins for E Ruth, J Murphy for D Foley, T Bolger for K Nolan.

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois)

Sunday Indo Sport