Antrim showed character at Casement Park on Saturday, surviving a late rally from Carlow to squeeze through to the All-Ireland’s third qualifying round by the narrowest of margins.
The game swung on the 54th minute when, in the space of 60 seconds, Antrim snatched their goal and Carlow’s Ed Finnegan was red-carded after a second bookable offence — two quick-fire decisions that helped the home team to victory.
Carlow attacked fiercely thereafter but they didn’t score from the 10th minute until the 34th.
Antrim led by 0-6 to 0-2 but Daniel St Ledger leaped to Carlow’s rescue with three brilliant points in the three minutes before the interval.
Just after the restart, Carlow were ahead as St Ledger knocked home a loose ball after two other efforts had been blocked.
The introduction of Paddy Cunningham revived the home attack but then Carlow’s Brendan Murphy lobbed the ball in the Antrim net and St Ledger tapped over a free to close the gap to one point.
“I’m just glad to get through,” said Antrim manager Liam Bradley.
“We showed lack of composure in the first half and I said at the break that we needed to show a bit more passion and pride.”
ANTRIM: W McSorley; C Brady, R Johnson, K O’Boyle, T Scullion, J Crozier, A Healy, S Burke, A Gallagher, C Murray (0-2), T McCann (0-2), J Loughrey (0-1), G O’Boyle (0-2), B Herron, K Niblock (0-2). Subs: A Douglas for K O’Boyle (19); P Cunningham (0-3) for McCann (40), M Dougan (1-1) for Healy (47), K Brady for Herron (62).
CARLOW: T O’Reilly; A Murphy, C Lawlor, B Kavanagh, P Cashin, S Redmond, K Nolan, Brendan Murphy (1-2), D Foley (0-2), P Hickey, W Minchin, E Finnegan, E Ruth, Brian Murphy, D St Ledger (1-4). Subs: BJ Molloy for Murphy (43), T Walsh (0-1) for Minchin (45), C Mullins for Ruth (54), J Murphy for Foley (57), T Bolger for Nolan (60).
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).