Oriel starlets outshine Antrim to net place in quarters
Antrim 0-16 Monaghan 2-14
Goals in either half proved the difference as Monaghan reached the Ulster U21 Football Championship quarter-finals, but were made to fight all the way by a fine Antrim side at Queen's in Belfast last night.
The first half was played at a fast pace but both sides were off target until Odhran Eastwood raised the first flag on five minutes with a free for Antrim.
The teams then hit two points apiece with the impressive Seamus McGarry curling over the first two of his five first-half scores for the hosts with Michael Brannigan and David Garland chipping in for the Oriels.
Monaghan then hit the opening goal when the ball fell kindly for Dermot Gleeson who blasted low to the net, but the Saffrons responded well, hitting four of the next five points to move ahead.
Monaghan enjoyed a fine spell with three of the next four points to lead approaching the break until they lost James Mealiff to a black card for a trip on Peter Healy, with Eastwood kicking the resulting free to leave the sides level at the break, 1-6 to 0-9.
Antrim should have had the lead at the break, but were denied a goal when Shane Garland somehow kept out McGarry's palmed effort.
It was also nip and tuck in the second half until Monaghan hit the crucial score on 45 minutes when Michael Brannigan fed David Garland, who swivelled and fired low into the net to move the Oriels 2-9 to 0-13 ahead.
Antrim did recover well with great points from Ruairi Scott and McGarry, but Barry Kerr (two), Garland, Stephen Finnegan and David McAllister saw Monaghan home.
Scorers: Antrim: S McGarry 0-8 (1 free); O Eastwood 0-4 (all frees); R McCann, R Scott, P Healy, P McCormick 0-1 each. Monaghan: D Garland 1-3; M Brannigan 0-4 (1 free); D Gleeson 1-1; B Kerr 0-2; D McAllister, S Finnegan, F Hanratty, M Tierney 0-1 each.