GAA: Sligo ease into next round after 0-22 to 3-07 win
By Declan Rooney
Last Updated: 18/06/17 9:02am
Three of Antrim's four second-half scores were goals, but 12 unanswered points from Sligo saw them to a 0-22 to 3-7 victory at Markevicz Park.
Stephen Coen kicked all eight of his points for Sligo in the second half, while Adrian Marren's brilliance and the probing play-making of John Kelly was key to what was a convincing win in the end.
But Antrim actually led by four points early in the second half after Matthew Fitzpatrick fired their second goal, when his shot for a point dipped in under the crossbar past the unfortunate Aidan Devaney.
Considering that goal came immediately after Jack Dowling had been sent off for Antrim following an ugly collision with Mark Breheny it was a massive boost for the Saffrons, but instead of kicking on to the win, it was the home side that finally shook off their first-half hesitancy to power to victory and clinch their place in Monday morning's second-round draw.
With Sligo's scores coming in fits and starts, it was no surprise that they were never able to shake off the Antrim challenge before the interval, especially with Conor Murray back in the team and in good form following his suspension.
Murray kicked three points for his team before the interval as he made up for lost time - the second a monster score from the right touchline - but his time away from the game told in the second period as his influence faded. He was ably helped by Tomas McCann who worked some space to hit a great point after 14 minutes.
A free from Marren and a point from Niall Murphy meant the teams were level following Murray's early brace of points, but a couple of frees from McGourty after fouls on Murray and Fitzpatrick soon had Antrim ahead.
But Sligo replied with an important burst of scores as Patrick O'Connor kicked two good points from midfield and Breheny added a free as Sligo worked their way into a 0-7 to 0-6 lead at the interval.
The game was turned on its head three minutes after the resumption when Ross Donovan fouled Owen Gallagher and McGourty buried the resultant penalty for a two-point lead.
But he followed it up with a poor missed free, and when Dowling was shown a straight red card for a collision with Breheny, Antrim looked in big trouble.
But in the 44th minute, Fitzpatrick was a tad lucky when he shot found the top corner of Devaney's net after his lung-bursting run up the left, which gave his side a 2-6 to 0-8 lead.
But with the man advantage and superior fitness levels to call on, Sligo set about cutting that four-point lead.
Marren started the run, before Coen took the free-taking duties from the injured Breheny and shot three frees, while two more from Pat Hughes saw Sligo over the line.
Sligo: A Devaney; R Donovan, E McHugh (0-1), C Harrison; Keelan Cawley, B Egan, J Kelly; A McIntyre, P O'Connor (0-2); N Ewing, M Breheny (0-1, 0-1f), N Murphy (0-2); S Coen (0-8, 0-4f), P Hughes (0-2), A Marren (0-5, 0-3f).
Subs: K McDonnell (0-1) for McHugh (35+8), Kyle Cawley for Breheny (44), G O'Kelly-Lynch for Keelan Cawley (53), S Gilmartin for Kelly (63), S Henry for Hughes (67), D Cummins for O'Connor (68), P Laffey for Harrison (76).
Antrim: C Kerr (c); N Delargy, P Gallagher, C Hamill; P McBride (1-1), D Lynch, P McAleer; S McVeigh, S Beatty; C Murray (0-3), M Fitzpatrick (1-0), M Sweeney; CJ McGourty (1-2, 1-0pen, 0-2f), T McCann (0-1), R McCann.
Subs: K O'Boyle for McAleer (10-37 temp), O Gallagher for R McCann (25), J Dowling for Beatty (35+4), P Healy for Sweeney (56 BC), R Murray for T McCann (62), B Bradley for McGourty (62).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).