There was plenty of effort, plenty of running but not a lot of top class football at Casement Park, on Saturday, as Antrim ousted Carlow from the Tommy Murphy Cup. The Saffrons won 1-10 to 0-11.
This looked more like a challenge or trial game than a national knockout contest.
Carlow ran and ran and ran but had no finishing power as they usually ran out of ideas when faced by a pretty solid home rearguard.
From Antrim's point of view, they got the necessary win but they didn't have the power to shake off the opposition and it was a 20th minute goal by skipper Kevin Brady that was vital.
The game was two points each when roving full-forward Brady connected with a cross from Justin Crozier, fisting the ball home despite the close attention of the 'keeper and a defender.
Tony Scullion landed a point immediately and it looked like Antrim would pull away, but it never happened.
\[Peter Hutcheon\]"I thought that we should have but they hit back with a few points. We didn't shake them off and I'm just glad that we survived in the end. We were very disappointed at losing to Cavan in the championship and we must now keep training and working hard towards the Tommy Murphy semi-final," stressed Brady.
After the Antrim goal, Carlow raced back to rifle over three unanswered points and should have netted but Brian Murphy muffed the chance. It was down to one point on the half-hour and just on the short blow Michael Magill pointed an Antrim free to give the Saffrons a 1-4 to 0-5 interval cushion.
Seconds after the restart JJ Smith hit a Carlow point but Antrim pulled away again to fire over five points with only one in reply before the visitors put in a major rally. However, they constantly over-played the ball and gave away possession.
When Kevin O'Boyle blocked what looked like a certain Carlow goal, after JJ Smith scythed through on the hour, it was a major blow to the visitors.
\[Peter Hutcheon\]ntrim survived for their 1-10 to 0-11 victory with Mark Graham crashing a fierce drive off the top of the Carlow bar for Antrim's closing point seconds from the finish.
"Carlow came here to win - there is no doubt about that. I'm pleased that we won. We are still in the competition. The disappointing defeat in last year's final hasn't been thought about. The defence worked very hard and we now wait for the semi-final draw," he said.
ANTRIM: S McGreevy; C Brady, A McLean, P Conlon; T Scullion (0-1), T Convery, K O'Boyle; P Doherty, M McCarry; P Close, J Crozier (0-1, free), B Hasson (0-1); M Magill (0-2, 1f), K Brady (1-0), C Close (0-4, 2f). Subs: M Graham (0-1) for McCarry (45), C Totten for O'Boyle (62), G McAleese for Close (70).
CARLOW: J Brennan; P Bambric, S Redmond, M Nolan; P Cashin, D St Ledger (0-2, 1f), A Curran (0-1); P Walsh, D Byrne: S Gannon, B Murphy, JJ Smith (0-2, 1f); E McCormack, M Carpenter (0-5), R Synott. Subs: C Mullins (0-1) for Synott (55), B English for McCormack (66)
Referee: R O'Donnell (Donegal).