Tuesday 12 December 2017

Antrim's narrow escape

Antrim 2-11 London 2-9

Kevin Niblock got Antrim out of jail with a late goal as they escaped from Ruislip with a narrow football qualifier win over London. The substitute popped up with eight minutes remaining to put the Saffrons back in front after London had threatened to repeat last year's heroics in the qualifiers.





Liam Bradley's side looked in control midway through the first half when Aodhán Gallagher's 18th-minute goal gave them a five-point lead but London managed to finish the half in stunning fashion. Inspired by captain and Antrim native Seán McVeigh, they fired two goals in 10 minutes -- from Ciarán McCallion and Eoin O'Neill -- to take a shock 2-5 to 1-5 lead into the break.

Playing with the strong wind in the second half, Antrim were quickly back on level terms through top scorer Tomás McCann. Peter Finn missed a glorious chance for a third London goal but points from Mark Gottsche, McCallion and a Michael Mullins free swung the game back in their favour as it entered the final quarter.

However, there would be another twist as Antrim broke with serious pace and worked the ball inside to sub Niblock, who dummied past Evan Byrne and finished.

London threw bodies forward late on, leaving them even more vulnerable on the counter, and it allowed McCann to notch his fifth point of the game in injury time and secure a nervy win.

Scorers -- Antrim: T McCann 0-5 (4f), A Gallagher, K Niblock 1-0 each, J Loughery, C Murray 0-2 each, M Sweeney, C Kelly 0-1 each. London: E O'Neill, C McCallion 1-1 each, M Mullins (1f), S McVeigh 0-2 each, S Kelly (f), J Scanlon, M Gottsche 0-1 each.

Antrim: C Kerr; J Crozier, R Johnson, K O'Boyle; M Johnson, T Scullion, A Healy; M McCann, C Kelly; C Murray, M Sweeney, J Loughery; A Gallagher, T McCann, M Magill. Subs: K Niblock for Magill (47), P McBride for Sweeney (55), M Armstrong for Murray (69)

London: E Byrne; S Hannon, S Mulligan, D McGreevy; K O'Leary, T Gaughan, J Scanlon; S McVeigh, M Gottsche; S Kelly, G Crowley, C McCallion; M Mullins, L Mulvey, E O'Neill. Subs: P McGoldrick for Kelly (40), P Finn for Crowley (52), M Carroll for Mullins (63), N Egan for O'Neill (67).

Ref: P Hughes (Armagh)

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