They may have forfeited the right to make progress in the Walsh Cup by losing to Carlow last week-end but yesterday Antrim did the next best thing by booking their place in the Walsh Shield final at the expense of Laois.
Kevin Ryan’s side still managed to make things hard for themselves, only squeezing through courtesy of a Neil McManus scoring flourish in extra-time.
The Saffrons will now meet a buoyant Dublin Institute of Technology side in the decider and manager Ryan will be seeking a much more accomplished performance from his side.
“It’s good to be getting another game at this juncture but there are areas of our play on which we need to work,” he said.
The sides were deadlocked at 0-15 each at the end of normal time, Matthew Donnelly having brought Antrim level in the dying moments.
And it was in extra-time that the cultured McManus played a captain’s part, whipping over two superb points that allowed his team to breast the tape just ahead of their gritty opponents.
Paddy Doherty, Paul Shiels and Donnelly rendered useful support to their heroic skipper, who scored 0-10 in all. Steve Maher grabbed six points for Laois and Tommy Fitzgerald was on target three times.
Derry also survived a close call when they just got past GMIT by 2-11 to 2-10 in the Kehoe Cup. Derry led by 0-6 to 0-3 at half-time with Ruairi Convery landing three of their scores and they seemed comfortable when Chris Convery fired in a goal to put them 1-10 to 0-7 ahead in the third quarter.
But GMIT hit back with a Paul Hoban goal and even after Brendan Quigley rifled in Derry’s second goal, Conor O’Donnell responded again to set up a tense finish.
Armagh found Meath too strong in the second half at Navan. Armagh led by 0-8 to 0-4 at half-time with Declan Coulter grabbing five points but Steve Clinch’s assured finished brought nine points and gave Meath a 0-15 to 0-11 success.