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Antrim duo see red as promotion bid suffers blow

Leitrim 1-11 Antrim 1-06: Antrim's National League Division Four campaign got off to the worst possible start, going down to promotion rivals Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon.

The Saffrons failed to score from play in a dreadful first half in which they recorded six wides and dropped three speculative shots into the keeper's arms.

Leitrim were much more proficient with the ball in hand, and established a healthy advantage on the scoreboard with Emlyn Mulligan and Kevin Conlan impressing in the forward line.

Conlan should have given the hosts their first goal after just 17 minutes when he blasted narrowly wide after a great, flowing move.

Further scores from Mulligan, Tomas Beirne and Conlan heaped the pressure on Antrim, whose only response in the half were two converted Paddy Cunningham frees and a Paddy Kelly '45'.

The home side were to have the final say in the half when a drilled Robbie Lowe shot was deflected into the net, off the post, by big Tomas Beirne giving Antrim goalkeeper Chris Kerr no chance.

Antrim needed to up the tempo in the second half and got off to a good start when substitute Philip Maguire scored a fine point and Antrim looked like they had got themselves right back in contention after 43 minutes with a goal. Niall McKeever marked his return to Antrim colours when he punched the ball to the net at the second time of asking after being picked out by Tomas McCann's floated pass from a '45.

Moments later and Antrim's Brian Neeson hit the post with a great shot after excellent work from Conor Murray. But, the fightback never materialised as Antrim's Martin Johnson was sent off after an innocuous challenge resulted in a second booking for the big Creggan man.

Although Antrim dominated possession for the remainder of the game, they managed only two more scores, both from Tomas McCann frees, while Paul Brennan and Mulligan responded for the hosts.

To compound a bad day for Antrim, Conor Murray was given a straight red card near the end and he will now miss Antrim's crucial next match at home to Wicklow on Sunday.

LEITRIM: C McCrann, B Prior, D Wrynn, P Maguire, P Brennan 0-2, G Reynolds, W McKeon, A Hickey (J Glancey 66 mins), D Moran, K Conlan 0-2, R Lowe (G Hickey 51mins), F Clancy (D Sweeney 53 mins), E Mulligan 0-5, T Beirne 1-1, R Cox 0-1 (J Mulligan 51mins)

ANTRIM: C Kerr, K O'Boyle, M Johnson, J Crozier, T Scullion, M Sweeney, J Laverty, N McKeever 1-0, M McCann, C Murray, M Pollock (T McCann 0-2, 32 mins), P Kelly 0-1 (C Duffin 41 mins), P Cunningham 0-2 (R Murray 52 mins), B Hasson (B Neeson 47 mins), R McGrady (P Maguire 0-1, 23 mins)

Referee: C Brannigan (Down)

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