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Numbers don't seem to add up in St Mary's victory

Antrim 3-12 St Mary's 2-16

By David Mohan

St Mary's claimed the points at Glenavy in yesterday's opening Dr McKenna Cup Section B game against an experimental Antrim side with a point to spare despite most observers making it a two-point win for the Ranch.

The students were full value for their victory and looked much slicker in attack throughout as they raced into an early 0-4 to 0-1 lead with man of the match Oisin O'Neill to the fore against an Antrim side that featured seven starting debutants.

Antrim pulled level on 25 minutes thanks to scores from Ryan Murray, Creggan's Ruairi McCann and corner-back Conor Hamill, but from the restart St Mary's hit the first goal as the impressive Conor Meyler initiated and finished a flowing move.

The west Belfast college hit the next three points to go six clear with Kieran McGeary and the excellent Niall Toner kicking fine scores from play on top of an O'Neill free, but Antrim grabbed a lifeline as a Murray goal on the stroke of half-time left it 1-7 to 1-4 in favour of St Mary's.

The second period exploded into life with scores flowing as Antrim's Murray kicked some excellent points and substitute Stephen Beatty began to influence matters, but St Mary's took the initiative on 41 minutes when O'Neill fired to the net.

They were able to respond to anything Antrim hit them with and they led by six on 58 minutes - 2-13 to 1-10 - before the Saffrons stormed back with two goals in a minute to level.

First, Kevin Niblock took a free from a mark and pumped a long ball into the path of Ruairi McCann, who finished neatly.

From the restart, Antrim gained possession and Niblock was through one-on-one but was taken down by goalkeeper Mark Reid.

That resulted in a black card and penalty that Tomás McCann blasted to the net to level.

However, it was St Mary's who finished stronger and after the sides swapped points, it emerged that Antrim were leading by one despite most having the game level.

St Mary's levelled through substitute Joe Colton and the winning score came from O'Neill, while Antrim finished with 14 as debutant Michael Johnston was given a second yellow.

Antrim: R Hanna; C Hamill (0-1), P Gallagher, N Delargy; D Lynch (0-1), J Laverty, P McAleer; M Johnston, O Lenehan; R Scott, R Murray (1-6, 0-3 frees), Ruairi McCann (Creggan) (1-1); C Small, K Niblock (0-1), Ruairi McCann (Aghagallon). Subs: S Beatty (0-1) for O Lenehan (21), P McBride for C Small (31), T McCann (1-0 pen) for R McCann (Aghagallon, 45), E Walsh for P McAleer (52), L McLarnon for R Scott (62).

St Mary's: M Reid; J Hannigan, A McKay, K Mallon; C Byrne, M O'Hare, C Myler (1-1); D McConville, O O'Neill (1-6, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45); C McShane, K McGeary (0-2), S McConville (0-1); D Kavanagh (0-1), M FItzpatrick, N Toner (0-4). Subs: C Quinn for D McConville (47), B Og McGilligan for D Kavanagh (47), C Mac Iomhair for M O'Hare (51), P Sweeney for M Reid (black card, 60), J Colton (0-1) for C McShane (66), P Og McCrickard for C Byrne (70).

Referee: Dan Mullan (Derry)

Belfast Telegraph

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