| 10.5°C Dublin

Cunningham stars in Antrim fightback

Antrim turned around a five-point first-half deficit to earn their first points of the Allianz Division 2 campaign against Meath at Casement Park last night.

Meath, who finished the game with 13 men after Brian Meade and Thomas Walsh saw red in the second half, settled quicker and opened the scoring through Shane O'Rourke. Antrim levelled through Kevin Niblock but the Royals then added five unanswered points for a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 22 minutes.

O'Rourke was central to all that was good about Meath in the opening stages, with Brian Farrell slotting into the full-forward's role. The home side had difficulty in dealing with the Meath forward line with Graham Reilly and Joe Sheridan both making space for themselves.

The home side then began to find their range, inspired by two quick-fire points from half-back Tony Scullion. Paddy Cunningham added a free for the home side and when Sean Burke got on the scoresheet the Saffrons trailed by 0-6 to 0-5 after 31 minutes.

A second Cunningham free levelled matters but Meath probably should have found the net through David Morgan seconds later. The corner-forward skewed wide after Sheridan's palmed effort was saved by Antrim keeper Sean O'Neill. Antrim then took the lead for the first time when Cunningham converted his third free in stoppage-time for a 0-7 to 0-6 lead at the break.

A nip and tuck second half was level after 57 minutes when sub Cian Ward converted a free to tie the score at 0-10 apiece. Four unanswered scores from Cunningham put Antrim on their way to victory.

Scorers -- Antrim: P Cunningham 0-9 (0-8f), T Scullion 0-2, K Niblock, S Burke, T O'Neill 0-1 each. Meath: S O'Rourke 0-3 (0-2f), D Morgan 0-1, G Reilly, C Ward (0-2f) 0-3 each, J Sheridan 0-1.

Antrim: S O'Neill; A Healy, A Douglas, K O'Boyle; T Scullion, J Crozier, T O'Neill; K McGourty, S Burke; A Gallagher, K Brady, C Murray; P Cunningham, K Niblock, B Herron. Subs: R Johnston for J Crozier, M Dougan for K Niblock, M Sweeney for K Brady.

Meath: B Murphy; G O'Brien, K Reilly, C King; S Kenny, B Meade, C McGuinness; M Ward, C Gillespie; S McAnarney, B Farrell, G Reilly; D Morgan, J Sheridan, S O'Rourke. Subs: C Ward for B Farrell, N Crawford for M Ward, B Menton for K Reilly, A Nestor for D Morgan.

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).

Sunday Indo Sport