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Antrim made to pay heavy penalty

Offaly 1-9 Antrim 1-8

Niall McNamee’s brilliantly finished 64th minute penalty when his side trailed by two points, 10-9 to 1-8, ensured Offaly claimed the scalp of Division 3 high flyers Antrim in O’Connor Park, Tullamore yesterday.

Liam Bradley’s Antrim charges opened smartly with dependable free-taker Patrick Cunningham, their only scorer of the first half, slotting over an opening minute free. Offaly edged 0-2 to 0-1 ahead by the seventh after Ciaran McManus, playing in his 101st league game, converted a free and John Reynolds was also on target.

2009 Ulster finalists Antrim were awarded a 16th minute penalty as Patrick Cunningham was fouled by Karol Slattery and the Lamh Dearg ace confidently finished to the net, 1-1 to 0-2.

Cunningham added three more points (two from frees) to his personal haul and Tom Cribbin’s Offaly responded per McManus and David Egan, 1-4 to 0-4 at half time.

Reynolds had the ball nestling in Sean McGreevy’s net two minutes into the new half but referee Thomas Quigley disallowed the goal, ruling the Offaly forward over-carried.

Cunningham kicked his fifth point and Egan replied.

Ciaran Close became only Antrim’s second scorer in the 49th minute, 1-6 to 0-5, but he injured himself in the process of shooting and was replaced by Paul Doherty. Reynolds and Cunningham traded points before a brace from Niall McNamee, who’d earlier sent a 13m free wide, hauled Offaly to within two points, 0-8 to 1-7.

Defensively solid Antrim, who deployed left half forward James Loughrey as an extra defender, restored their three-point lead through Brendan Herron.

Egan floated over his third point for the ‘faithful’ and in the 64th minute after McManus was brought down by Dermot McCann. The Antrim corner back became the sixth player to pick up a yellow card and the resulting penalty was clinically executed by McNamee, dramatically sealing the deal for the home side,.

\[Peter Hutcheon\]Antrim star man Cunningham did have the opportunity to nab an equaliser deep in injury time but his free drifted wide and with it went their 100% league record. OFFALY: Mulhall, McConway, Kiely, Sullivan, Lonergan, Slattery, Darby, Dalton, Coughlan, Sullivan, McManus (0-2, 0-1 free), Sullivan, Egan (0-3), Reynolds (0-2), McNamee (1-2, 1-0 penalty & 0-1 free). Subs: Connor (for Sullivan 29 mins), Lynam (for Lonergan 29 mins), Brady (for Coughlan 58 mins).

ANTRIM: McGreevey, O’Boyle, Douglas, D McCann, Scullion, Carey, O’Hagan, M McCann, Herron (0-1), Close (0-1), McCann, Loughrey, Cunningham (1-6, 1-0 penalty & 0-3 frees), O’Boyle, Murray. Subs: Doherty (for Close inj, 49 mins), Pollock (for T McCann 53 mins), S Finch (for D McCann 69 mins).

Referee: T Quigley (Dublin).

Belfast Telegraph

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