Elliott nets Antrim surprise as Donegal march on
Just when it was thought that Antrim might drift through Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League pointless, they provided a turn-up for the books by getting the better of Offaly yesterday.
It may have been very much in the nature of a dead rubber as the Saffrons are already destined to meet Laois in a relegation shoot-out, but their performance has certainly provided comfort for a management team that had begun to believe the gods were conspiring against them.
Without the imposing presence of Neil McManus in their side it had been expected that Antrim would struggle and they certainly did make life difficult for themselves in spasms, but when Nigel Elliott stole in to tuck away a goal in the closing moments it gave the Ulster side a 2-21 2-18 victory they richly deserved.
Antrim led by 1-10 to 1-9 at the break, with Daniel McCloskey registering their first goal before joining Elliott in landing vital points. At one stage in the second half it looked as if Offaly would take over but Antrim's battling qualities surfaced and in the end they pocketed the points although they could yet face the drop into Division Two next year.
If Antrim have their worries, then Donegal are on cloud nine following their third successive victory over Ulster opponents in Division 2B. This time it was Armagh who experienced the full force of the north-west machine at the Athletic Grounds where Lee Henderson's inspirational midfield performance - he scored eight points in all - highlighted this latest chapter in the visitors' renaissance.
Former Armagh player Declan Coulter hardly endeared himself to orchard county fans when he scored a goal in each half, the second from a penalty, to provide Donegal with a further ration of belief.
Also in Division 2B, Down recovered from their setback against Donegal to hand out a shock to unbeaten Mayo at Ballycran. Down won by 3-19 to 0-14 to keep in the frame for promotion.
Derry, though, lost to Wicklow by 3-15 to 2-13, while in Division 3A Tyrone turned on the style to beat Longford by 2-21 to 1-14.