Antrim's league campaign ended with a whimper at Creggan yesterday as the Saffrons came out on the wrong side of a 0-10 to 0-6 scoreline to Clare in their final Allianz Football League clash of 2014.
The win was enough to secure promotion for Clare, who now face Tipperary in the Division Four final, while Antrim manager Liam Bradley knows he has some serious work to do ahead of his side's Ulster SFC opener to Fermanagh on June 1.
In a low-scoring encounter, Clare led by two points at the break, 0-4 to 0-2. It took all of 20 minutes for the game's first score to arrive when Martin O'Leary converted a free for the visitors. Prior to that, Clare had amassed 10 wides, although Shane McGrath added Clare's on 27 minutes.
Sean Collins and David Tubridy added points for a 0-4 to 0-0 advantage after 32 minutes, and the Saffrons finally broke their duck when James Lavery slotted over.
Clare adopted a different game plan in the second half and their short passing game paid dividends when McGrath extended the lead. Brian Neeson responded but Clare added the next three points.
It was then Antrim's turn to enjoy a period of dominance and two Michael Pollock frees were split by a CJ McGourty effort to leave a gap of just two. When Brennan was dragged to the ground on 63 minutes, referee Cathal O'Hagan pointed to the spot, from where Tubridy took the sensible option of stroking the ball over, and the same player's hand-passed point in injury time was enough for promotion.
Antrim: R Hanna; K O'Boyle, R Johnston, O Hamill; D Lynch, M Johnston, J Laverty (0-1); N McKeever, S McVeigh; R Murray, M Sweeney, T McCann (0-1); CJ McGourty (0-1f), B Neeson (0-1), M Pollock (0-2f). Subs: N Delargy for K O'Boyle (bc), P Maguire for T McCann, C Murray for B Neeson, T Scullion for O Hamill, R McCann for CJ McGourty, M McGarry for T Scullion (bc).
Clare: P De Loughrey; D Ryan, K Hartnett, M McMahon; S Hickey, G Kelly, C Russell; G Brennan, C O'Connor; S Collins (0-1), J Malone, S McGrath (0-3); M O'Leary (0-1f), D Tubridy (0-3, 2f), E Coughlan. Subs: P Collins (0-2) for J Malone, S Brennan for C O'Connor, P McMahon for E Coughlan.
Referee: C O'Hagan (Tyrone).