Antrim 1-10 Laois 0-11
Allianz Football League Division 3
Laois’s disappointing Allianz Football League campaign went from bad to worse in Belfast this afternoon as Antrim claimed the vital two points.
On a disastrous day for Laois that saw them play the entire second half with 14 men following a red card to Damien O’Connor, they are now on two points from five league games and in serious danger of dropping to Division 4.
And with Longford beating Sligo, it means that Laois and Offaly are now tied at the bottom of the table with two games remaining. Laois play Longford next Saturday night and are then away to Offaly a week later and even winning those two games might not be enough to keep them up.
Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. Early injuries to Stephen Attride and Donie Kingston were followed by O’Connor’s dismissal and then a black card to David Conway, one of Laois’s best players in the opening half.
Laois played against a strong breeze in the opening half and despite having plenty of ball, they struggled to get scores on the board.
While Ross Munnelly (free) and Paddy McBride exchanged early points, Antrim were 0-4 to 0-1 up after ten minutes.
David Conway – with the first of his two points – and another Munnelly free had the gap back to one but CJ McGourty’s first score kept Antrim clear.
David Conway responded with a fine point and then an exceptional effort from play from Munnelly after great work from Evan O’Carroll had the sides level.
But the couple of minutes before half time were massive in the context of the game. A red card for Damien O’Connor (Conor Murray was yellow carded for the same off the ball incident) and then a double black card for David Conway and Kevin Niblock was followed by the game’s first goal – McGourty pouncing when the Laois defence failed to deal with a high ball into the square.
While Evan O’Carroll responded with a point, Antrim led 1-5 to 0-6 up at half time.
Laois started the second half well and drew level with early points from Evan O’Carroll and Alan Farrell.
Antrim got their noses in front again when Paddy McBride punched over and although James Finn levelled things up again, Antrim then pointed twice to put some daylight between the sides.
Despite being a man down, Laois had numerous chances but their only score came when Padraig McMahon palmed over.
O’Carroll – who was impressive on his first outing back from injury – missed straight forward free to level things up while Darren Strong, Finn, John O’Loughlin, Munnelly and James Kelly all saw good chances go astray.
A late CJ McGourty free earned Antrim the win – and a long journey home for Laois.
SCORERS – Laois: Ross Munnelly 0-3 (two frees), Evan O’Carroll 0-2, David Conway 0-2, Sean Moore 0-1 (free), James Finn 0-1, Padraig McMahon 0-1, Alan Farrell 0-1. Antrim: CJ McGourty 1-4 (0-3 frees), Conor Murray 0-2, Paddy McBride 0-2, Jack Dowling 0-1,
LAOIS: Graham Brody; Darren Strong, Denis Booth, James Kelly; Alan Farrell, Padraig McMahon, Stephen Attride; John O’Loughlin, James Finn; Niall Donoher, David Conway, Damien O’Connor; Ross Munnelly, Donie Kingston, Paul Kingston. Subs: Eoin Buggie for Attride (injured – 18 mins), Evan O’Carroll for D Kingston (injured – 25 mins), Sean Moore for Conway (black card – 37 mins), Cormac Murphy for Munnelly (49 mins), Kieran Lillis for P Kingston (55 mins), Danny O’Reilly for Finn (63 mins)
ANTRIM: Chris Kerr; Conor Hamill, Patrick Gallagher, Peter Healy; Paddy McBride; Declan Lynch, Paddy McAleer; Jack Dowling, Stephen Beatty; Kevin Niblock, Ruairi McCann, Matthew Fitzpatrick; CJ McGourty, Conor Murray, Seamus McGarry. Subs: Sean Donelly for Niblock (black card – 37 mins), Brendan Bradley for McGarry (46 mins), Donal Nugent for Dowling (64 mins)
REFEREE: Eamon O’Grady (Leitrim)