Young Saffrons hit back as bright future beckons
Fermanagh 2-09 Antrim 2-11
Any crumb of comfort that comes Antrim's way at present is eagerly gobbled up and that's why a mixture of relief and satisfaction was triggered following this hard-earned Ulster Minor Football Championship quarter-final win over Fermanagh at Brewster Park, Enniskillen.
Despite scoring just one point from play in the first half and missing four goal chances, Saffrons boss Sean McGoldrick is keeping a sense of perspective as he focuses on the forthcoming clash with Cavan.
"We didn't turn up in the first half, it was as simple as that," rapped McGoldrick. "Fermanagh hit us with an early goal and they gained momentum and were able to drive on. The manner in which we gave away that first goal disappointed me but I think we showed in the second half what we are capable of."
When Luke Ryder's speculative shot somehow ended up in the back of the Antrim net in the ninth minute, his team looked as if they might boss the contest.
And when Paul Og O'Reilly struck Fermanagh's second goal in the 21st minute, Antrim had still only managed one point from play to complement two converted frees by Conor Small.
But when Brendan Corr flicked home a goal just before the break to trim Fermanagh's advantage to 2-3 to 1-3, he lit the torch for a spirited recovery.
The match revolved around a shoot-out between Ryder and Small, with the latter's eight superbly-struck points underpinning his side's victory.
It was his namesake Kevin who cemented Antrim's resurgence with their second goal in the 51st minute. In contrast, Fermanagh contributed to their own downfall by surrendering possession much too easily, appearing vulnerable to counter-thrusts.
ANTRIM: G Murray; C Garland, C King, C Flynn; E Walsh, D Carey, B McCormick; G Walsh, C Murray; B Rice 0-1, C Small 0-8 (all frees), E Fyfe; O Eastwood 0-2, B Corr 1-0, C J McKenna. Subs: C Lyttle for McCormick (40 mins), J Maskey for Flynn (41), K Small 1-0 for Rice (47), D McCormick for C Small (55),P Finnegan for McKenna (60).
FERMANAGH: J Kelly; J Toye, C Carney, C Cameron; R McCaffrey, C McManus, S McGullion; M Og McGarrigle, N Clarke; E Curran 0-1, J Flanagan, C Goodwin 0-1, C Jones, L Ryder 1-8 (0-8 frees), P Og O'Reilly (1-0). Subs: E Cassidy for McCafferty (32), L Jones for Goodwin (57), P Leonard for C Jones (57).
Referee: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan).