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It's a sorry end to Saffrons' season as slick Sligo dish out painful blow

Sligo 0-22 Antrim 3-7

By Tomas McGurk

Antrim exited the All-Ireland SFC Championship after seeing a four-point lead overturned by Sligo at Markievicz Park on Saturday. A pedestrian first half gave way to an all-action second as Antrim hit the net three times.

But, a red card to midfielder Jack Dowling and a black card for sweeper Mark Sweeney contributed to their downfall as the home side hit 12 points without reply in an impressive second-half show of strength.

Sligo missed a number of early chances after Adrian Marren scored from a free while Antrim opened their account with two stunning points from the returning Conor Murray.

Sligo were causing Antrim a host of problems in the first quarter as they went direct. Marren and CJ McGourty exchanged points as the sides traded blows.

The game sprung to life as the first half drew to a close. Sligo midfielder Patrick O'Connor landed two stylish points to give his side a 0-7 to 0-6 lead at the break while substitute Owen Gallagher blasted a goal chance wide. On the restart, the Glenavy clubman won a penalty which McGourty tucked into the bottom corner.

However, Antrim were controversially reduced to 14 men when substitute Jack Dowling was red carded for a late challenge on Mark Breheny. The decision looked harsh, but Antrim responded in style as Matthew Fitzpatrick lobbed Aidan Devaney from 20 yards to give Antrim a 2-6 to 0-8 lead.

The Saffrons, however, failed to kick on and Sligo mounted an incredible comeback - hitting 12 unanswered points to wipe out Antrim's lead.

Crucially, Antrim's sweeper Mark Sweeney was dismissed for a black card on 50 minutes and from then on Sligo cut through the Saffron defence with ease.

Stephen Coen hit three points from play while Marren added two from play as the home side assumed complete control.

Ryan Murray and Brendan Bradley were introduced for Antrim and Murray had two goal chances in quick succession upon his introduction. He was crowded out for the first chance before Devaney pulled off a great stop to deny the Saffron attacker minutes later. Antrim did manage to bag a third goal from Paddy McBride in injury-time, he also hit a late point. However, the game was gone as Sligo hit 22 points in a powerful second half performance.

SLIGO: Devaney, Donavan, McHugh 0-1, Harrison; Cawlwy, Egan, Kelly; McIntyre, O'Connor 0-2; Ewing, Brenheny 0-1 (0-1f), Murphy 0-2; Coen 0-0-8 (0-4fs), Hughes 0-2, Marren 0-5 (0-3fs). Subs: McDonnell 0-1 for McHugh (35 + 7mins), Cawley for Breheny (43mins), Lynch for Cawley (53mins) Gilmartin for Kelly (63mins), Henry for Hughes (67mins), Cummins for O'Connor (68mins).

ANTRIM: Kerr; Delargy, Gallagher, Hamill; McBride 1-1, Lynch, McAleer; S McVeigh, Beatty; Murray 0-3, M Fitzpatrick 1-0, Sweeney; McGourty 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-2fs), McCann 0-1, McCann. Subs: K O'Boyle for McAleer (blood sub, 10 mins), O Gallagher for McCann (26mins), McAleer for O'Boyle (blood sub reversed, 35mins), Dowling for Beatty (35 +4 mins), Healy for Sweeney (black card 50mins), R Murray for T McCann (61mins), B Bradley for McGourty (61mins).

REFEREE: F Kelly (Longford).

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