Antrim boss Dinny Cahill says his players are a match for any team in the country despite losing by 19 points to Limerick in phase three of the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday evening at Parnell Park.
While Cahill’s assessment may seem more than a little optimistic given the gap between the sides at the final whistle, the Saffrons gave a good account of themselves until reduced to 14 men after 27 minutes of the first half.
The dismissal of Karl Stewart had a major bearing on the game which stood at seven points apiece when the St Galls clubman saw red for retaliation on Limerick’s Brian Geary. In the remainder of the game, Limerick went on to outscore Antrim by 3-15 to 0-5.
“We’re disappointed because we know we were a match for Limerick in the first half until we had the player sent off.
“I thought we were a match for Limerick, the scoreline is not a true reflection on Antrim,” said Cahill.
The Saffrons were the better side for the opening quarter and led by 0-6 to 0-3 after 19 minutes when the excellent Neil McManus stroked over his fourth point.
Eddie McCloskey had opened the scoring for Antrim, with Declan Hannon keeping the Limerick scores ticking over from frees.
Three Hannon points without reply tied the scores at 0-7 apiece on 26 minutes but a minute later Stewart reacted to Geary’s foul by stamping on the Limerick half-back leaving referee James Owens no choice but to show red.
Hannon put Limerick in front for the first time before Niall Moran fired home the game’s first goal to help Limerick to a 1-10 to 0-8 half-time lead.
Antrim began the second half well and closed the gap to three points come the 48th minute. However, the Ulster side would add just one more point.
Limerick’s second goal from David Breen opened the floodgates, with Richie McCarthy adding the third on 58 minutes.
When James Ryan stroked over from play on 66 minutes, he became the 12th name on the Limerick scoresheet.
Limerick face Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
Antrim: C O’Connell; K McGourty, C Donnelly, S McCrory, A Graffin, M Herron, N McAuley, P Shiels (0-1), E McCloskey (0-1), J Scullion, K Stewart, N McManus (0-6, 0-4f), C McCann (0-1), D Hamill (0-1), C McFall
Subs: B McFall for J Scullion, C Carson for E McCloskey, C Herron for S McCrory
Limerick: N Quaid; D Moloney, S Hickey, T Condon (0-1), W McNamara, B Geary (0-1 ‘65’), G O’Mahoney (0-1), D O’Grady (0-1), M O’Riordan (0-2), N Moran (1-1), J Ryan (0-2), D Hannon (0-8, 0-5f), R McCarthy (1-1), K Downes, S Tobin (0-3). Subs: D Breen (1-0) for K Downes, P O’Brien for D O’Grady, T O’Brien for N Moran, S Lucey for B Geary, S Walsh for W McNamara
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).