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Antrim face heat in survival drive

By John Campbell

The agony continues for Antrim in Division 1B of the Allianz League. A fourth consecutive defeat, this time at the hands of Limerick yesterday, means that a relegation play-off looms as they desperately strive to retain their slot in the top tier.

The Saffrons simply had no answer to Limerick's blistering pace, clever cohesion and supremely accurate finishing as they accumulated an impressive 3-21 score with their hosts only able to muster 0-13 in return.

The defensive frailties which appear to have bedevilled Antrim's league campaign were again brought into focus at chilly Cushendall where Oisin O'Reilly and Aaron Gillane claimed early goals that sent the visitors on the path to their resounding victory.

Not for the first time this term Antrim relied heavily on Neil McManus and Eoghan Campbell to pick off points but when Limerick had amassed 2-16 just nine minutes into the second-half the outcome was never in doubt.

The Antrim defence certainly absorbed tremendous pressure yesterday and with only one more scheduled game left to play - an away tie against Offaly - the odds against them surviving at this stage have now lengthened considerably.

In Division 2B, Armagh, who have been enduring a lean time, held out to record their first win by beating Derry by 2-18 to 1-15. The orchard county were more lively and inventive of late and goals from David McCreesh and Eoin McGuinness proved the catalyst for a classy and composed display.

Cormac McKenna (Derry) and Nathan Curry (Armagh) incurred red cards as the Oak Leaf side strove to salvage the match but David Carvill and Stevie Renaghan grabbed points that helped to keep Armagh in the clear.

Down, though, suffered an unexpected setback when they fell to Donegal by 0-17 to 0-14. The peninsula men had been moving smoothly recently but found that the Donegal attack carried too much venom on this occasion.

Donegal led by 0-10 to 0-5 at half-time but Down were expected to mount a revival and although the visitors displayed greater spirit and accuracy after the break, Donegal always managed to keep their noses in front.

In Division 3A, Tyrone, inspired by the majestic free-taking of Damian Casey yet again, squeezed out Roscommon by 1-16 to 1-12 in what morphed into a shoot-out between the consistent Casey and the opposition's ace marksman Daniel Glynn.

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