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Antrim boss Bradley in a rage over referee's decisions

By Declan Rooney

Limerick 3-11 - Antrim 0-10: Antrim manager Liam Bradley could find himself in bother with GAA officials after he lashed the performance of Fermanagh referee Martin Higgins, who he said made 'home town decisions'.

The Antrim boss was infuriated by the performance of Higgins as his side exited the championship to Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds.

Higgins awarded the home side two second-half penalties, but Bradley was angered by a call that went against Kevin Niblock in the build up to the first goal.

Antrim led by two points at that 42nd-minute juncture and never regained the lead.

"The reason we got beat today lies with the man in the middle with with Kevin Niblock not getting a free," Bradley said.

"He pinged him for lifting the ball off the ground and the ball was two foot off the ground. He wasn't up with the game so he didn't know what he was doing.

"The first goal was a killer for us, we tried to set ourselves a target that we weren't going to concede any goal and we go out and two penalties are given against us.

"I thought a lot of the time we saw this hand going up for advantage, we weren't getting advantage. We were being pulled and dragged all over the place but we weren't getting advantage.

"Either these boys implement the rules or they can forget about them, plain and simple. That guy in the middle, Higgins, cost us the game, nobody will tell me any different," said a livid Bradley.

A free count of 23-22 in favour of Limerick hardly points to a 'home town' performance from the referee, but Bradley was correct that Collins' first successful penalty turned the game.

Limerick manager John Brudair thought his side deserved their second qualifier victory after their three second-half goals stunned Antrim.

A pair of Ger Collins penalties and Darragh Tracey's palmed goal in the final play wrapped up a fine victory for the Treaty men.

"I think there was two or three more goal chances for us there in the second-half with our direct running," said Brudair.

"Teams have done it to us this year but we've reversed the tables today. I'm delighted."

Despite the loss of Justin Crozier with a dislocated elbow, Antrim led by 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time.

The Saffrons were well on top at that stage, but after the terrific John Galvin was fouled and Collins converted, Limerick improved.

When Collins' second spot-kick hit the net 12 minutes later Limerick led by three points and Bradley's side narrowly failed to peg them back.

"Those lads have been training very hard since November last year and to go out because of his (Higgins') performance was absolutely terrible.

"At the end of the day we scored 14 points, I wouldn't (worry about) the last goal," said Bradley.

"We probably should have got a couple of scores we didn't get. But ultimately came the mistake and we were chasing it after that. I feel so sorry for those lads."

Limerick: Brian Scanlon; Sean O'Dea, Padraig Browne, Mark O'Riordan (0-1); Iain Corbett, Johnny McCarthy, Pa Ranahan; Tom Lee (0-1), John Galvin (0-2); Seanie Buckley, Danny Neville, Gearoid Hegarty (0-1); Ger Collins (2-0 pens), Killian Phair (0-2), Ian Ryan (0-4, three frees). Subs: Darragh Tracey (1-0) for Lee (42 mins), Stephen Lucey for Corbett (44 mins), Eoin Hanrahan for Phair (63 mins), Micheal Brosnan for Neville (65 mins), John Mullane for Hegarty (69 mins), Garrett Noonan for Ryan (73 mins).

Antrim: Patrick Flood; Niall Delargly, Sean McVeigh, Kevin O'Boyle; Tony Scullion, Declan Lynch, Justin Crozier; Michael McCann (0-1), Niall McKever (0-1); Paul McCann (0-2), Kevin Niblock, Mark Sweeney (0-1); Paddy Cunningham (0-8, seven frees), Benny Hasson, Tomas McCann. Subs: Martin Johnson for Crozier (28 mins), Ronan McGrady (0-1) for Hasson (46 mins), Patrick McBride (0-1) for P McCann (53 mins), Richard Johnson for T McCann (65 mins).

Yellow cards: Limerick – None; Antrim – K O'Boyle (55)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: 0

Referee: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh).

Attendance: 727.

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