McManus strike sparks Saffron rout of Carlow
A blistering start from Antrim laid the groundwork for an easy win over a very disappointing Carlow in this clash of the division's bottom teams at Dr Cullen Park.
Antrim centre-forward and captain Neil McManus led by example. In the fifth minute he latched onto a long puck-out from Ryan McGarry and soloed through the heart of the home defence before crashing home a fine goal.
The Saffrons never looked back after that, picking off some superb long-range points from play with the aid of the strong wind.
Carlow struggled in all areas of the field and had to wait until the 15th minute for Marty Kavanagh to open their account with a pointed free.
The home side over-indulged in a handpassing game and, from one turnover, were severely punished when the ball was won back and transferred into the Carlow square where Shane McNaughton got the finishing touch for a good goal on 24 minutes. The visitors then led 2-8 to 0-2.
Antrim led 2-12 to 0-4 at half-time and, despite having the wind in the second half, there was no way back for Carlow. Kavanagh finished with 0-10, 0-9 from frees, but overall John Meyler's side were toothless in attack, with only one starting forward, Kavanagh, making the scoresheet from play.
The Saffrons put the icing on the cake with their third goal in injury-time from half-forward Stephen Beatty, which gave them a 10-point win, the same margin of victory enjoyed by Carlow in the Walsh Cup over yesterday's opponents in January.
Man of the Match: N McManus (Antrim)
Scorers – Antrim: N McManus 1-6 (0-5fs), S McNaughton 1-1, E Beatty 1-0, S McCloskey 0-2, S McCrory, N McAuley, J McGreevy, M Donnelly, D McLean 0-1 each. Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-10 (9fs), E Coady 0-2, S Kavanagh 0-1 (1f).
Antrim – R McGarry 7; C McKinley 7, A Garffin 7, M McFadden 7; S McCrory 6, N McAuley 8, P Shiels 6; M Donnelly 7, J McGreevy 6; S Beatty 6, N McManus 9, E McCloskey 6; D McClean 6, C Carson 6, S McNaughton 7. Subs: T McCloskey 6 for McNaughton (32, inj); K McKernan 6 for McClean (46); K McShane 6 for Donnelly (52); D Hammill for E McCloskey (65); C McFall for Carson (69).
Carlow – N Roberts 7; D English 5, E Nolan 8, D Shaw 7; A Corcoran 6, R Coady 7, J O'Hara 6; M Brennan 6, E Coady 7; J Kavanagh 6, S Kavanagh 7, M Kavanagh 7; C Doyle 5, JM Nolan 5, A Gaule 6. Subs: D Roberts 6 for J M Nolan (34); C Wall for Brennan (62); P Coady for Doyle (62).
Ref – T Carroll (Offaly).