Wednesday 13 December 2017

Saffrons leave McEnaney with plenty to ponder

Antrim 0-14
Meath 0-11

Meath manager Seamus McEnaney has plenty to work on after watching his team squander a five-point lead at Casement Park on Saturday night.

Once again, Meath -- who led by 0-6 to 0-1 after 22 minutes -- were punished for their indiscipline, with Paddy Cunningham scoring eight of Antrim's points from frees.

"I suppose it's down to our tackling. Some of the frees against us were soft but, nevertheless, our tackling hasn't been up to scratch. It's something we're going to have to work on in the next couple of weeks," said McEnaney.

"This is a hole that we need to get out of and now is the time to stand up and work our way out of it. It is a disappointing position to be in, but there are still eight points up for grabs and it's up to us to target two points against Donegal in Navan in two weeks' time."

Meath had played all the football in the opening stages, with Shane O'Rourke -- operating at half-forward -- proving hard to handle for the home defence.

But the Saffrons got to grips with midfield and rattled off six unanswered scores to lead 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time.

"At the start of the year we wanted to win our home games and we knew this was a game we could win. The players showed a bit of character to pull through," said Antrim boss Liam Bradley.

"People have doubted the character of this team, all you read is negative press about Antrim and we showed out there that we have footballers in Antrim as good as anywhere in this country."

The second half was level four times by the 57th minute, when Meath sub Cian Ward converted a free to tie the scores at 0-10 apiece.

Earlier, Kevin Niblock had a half chance on goal for the Saffrons but a cynical foul by Brian Meade saw the centre-back receive his second yellow card.

Antrim drove on and four unanswered scores from Cunningham set them on course for their first points in Division 2. There was late drama when Joe Sheridan was fouled in the Antrim square in the 65th minute, but his penalty cannoned off the post.

To add to Meath's woes, Thomas Walsh was dismissed two minutes from time for an off-the-ball incident and although Ward finished the scoring, Antrim held on for a deserved win.

Man of the Match: Sean Burke (Antrim)

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

Antrim -- S O'Neill 7; A Healy 7, A Douglas 6, K O'Boyle 8; T Scullion 8, J Crozier 7, T O'Neill 7; K McGourty 7, S Burke 9; A Gallagher 8, K Brady 6, C Murray 6; P Cunningham 8, K Niblock 6, B Herron 7. Subs: R Johnston 7 for Crozier, M Dougan 6 for Niblock, M Sweeney 6 for Brady.

Meath -- B Murphy 7; G O'Brien 6, K Reilly 7, C King 7; S Kenny 6, B Meade 6, C McGuinness 8; M Ward 6, C Gillespie 7; S McAnarney 7, B Farrell 6, G Reilly 8; D Morgan 7, J Sheridan 7, S O'Rourke 8. Subs: C Ward 8 for Farrell, N Crawford 6 for Ward, B Menton 6 for K Reilly, A Nestor 6 for Morgan.

Ref -- P Hughes (Armagh).

Irish Independent

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