McManus to fore in feisty Saffron win
Antrim 2-16 Carlow 0-19
Fourteen-man Antrim maintained their 100 per cent record in the Joe McDonagh Cup with a three-point win over 12-man Carlow at Corrigan Park, Belfast yesterday.
The home side saw Eoghan Campbell red-carded on 28 minutes, while Jack Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne and Richard Coady were sent to the line in the second half by Laois referee James O'Brien.
Playing with a stiff breeze, Antrim dominated the early exchanges. Neil McManus stroked over after just 20 seconds with Nigel Elliott continuing his good form minutes later, raising the first green flag of the game in the third minute.
Campbell completed a great Antrim move for point number two, with McManus converting a free to make it 1-3 to no score after five minutes. Denis Murphy opened the Carlow account on eight minutes but 10 minutes later Antrim had stretched their lead to seven points when a superb Joe Maskey effort made it 1-6 to 0-2.
John Michael Nolan converted a sideline for Carlow, while Elliott replied as the home side remained in control. However, a high tackle on Carlow target man James Doyle saw Campbell receive the game's first red card on 28 minutes. Murphy converted the resultant free before Doyle added his second of the day.
In the closing stages of the first half, two Murphy points sandwiched an Elliott score to leave the Saffrons 1-9 to 0-7 ahead at the break.
By the 53rd minute, Carlow had reduced the arrears to two points, 1-11 to 0-12, but Antrim struck for their second goal when a driving run by Elliott split the visitors' defence, and the Dunloy clubman crossed the sliotar into the path of McManus who batted home to restore a five-point gap.
Despite being down to 12 men, Carlow battled throughout the 11 minutes of injury time, scoring five of the last six points to close the gap to two, however an 85th-minute free from Conor Johnston saw out the win for Antrim.
Scorers - Antrim: N McManus 1-8 (7f), N Elliott 1-2, C Johnston 0-2 (1f), J Maskey, E Campbell, M Armstrong, and E McCloskey 0-1 each. Carlow: D Murphy 0-11 (8f), JM Nolan (1s/l), J Doyle, C Nolan and C Foley 0-2 each.
Antrim: E Elliott; S Rooney, J Dillon, C McKinley; J Maskey, P Burke, R McCambridge; E Campbell, S McCrory; N Elliott, C Johnston, N McManus; D McKinley, M Armstrong, C McCann. Subs: J McNaughton for D McKinley (48), E McCloskey for C McCann (50), D Kearney for J Maskey (51), C Carson for N McManus (67), N McAuley for R McCambridge (78), D McCloskey for M Armstrong (84).
Carlow: B Tracey; A Corcoran, P Doyle, M Doyle; R Coady, D English, D Byrne; J Kavanagh, K McDonald; JM Nolan, P Coady, E Byrne; J Doyle, D Murphy, R Smithers. Subs: C Nolan for R Smithers (46), D Wall for M Doyle (62), J Murphy for E Byrne (67), C Foley for P Coady (72)
Referee: J O'Brien (Laois)
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.
Sunday Indo Sport