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Antrim's promotion bid comes grinding to a halt


On the spot: Antrim's Conor McGourty missed a penalty

On the spot: Antrim's Conor McGourty missed a penalty

©William Cherry/Presseye

On the spot: Antrim's Conor McGourty missed a penalty

Antrim's hope of making an immediate return to Division Three of the National Football League all but ended after a rollercoaster match with Wicklow at Ahoghill yesterday.

The Garden County emerged victorious on a 3-9 to 1-13 score line, but the game swung on a converted Leighton Glynn penalty with 10 minutes left to play, which came soon after Antrim's Conor McGourty had missed a penalty of his own at the other end.

In a game that swung one way and then the other, it was the visitors who had the best of the opening period and were 1-3 to no score in front inside 10 minutes.

The promising Conor McGraynor won the first of three penalties in the match when he was hauled down by Niall Delargy after nine minutes and Leighton Glynn converted.

Antrim soon sprang into life and found that quick ball played into McGourty reaped plenty of reward, with the St Gall's man scoring all five of Antrim's first half points.

Wicklow picked up five bookings throughout the match, and had Ciaran Hyland black carded for a late challenge on Michael Pollock just before the interval.

While Wicklow began positively in the second half with two more points, Antrim came storming back into contention when McGourty scored yet again.

Two McGraynor frees gave Wicklow hope but Antrim had a golden opportunity to move decisively in front when Pollock was fouled in the square, but McGourty's penalty was saved.

The game was level when substitute James Stafford won possession with his first touch, turned and his shot rolled in at the far post.

Pollock restored Antrim's one point lead and Glynn made no mistake when awarded a penalty after Stafford was fouled.

In a grandstand finale Ryan Murray reduced the deficit for Antrim to a single point but a breakaway score from Niall Gaffney sealed the win for Wicklow.

ANTRIM: C Kerr, K O'Boyle, N Delargy, J Crozier, T Scullion (black card 63 minutes, replaced by P Cunningham), M Sweeney, J Laverty, M McAleese, N McKeever, C Kelly, M Pollock 0-2, P Maguire (R Murray 0-1, 55 mins), T McCann 1-2, B Hasson (M McCann 48 mins), C McGourty 0-8

WICKLOW: R Lambert, C Hyland (black card 34 mins, replaced by O Gallagher (P Earls, 48 mins)), D Power, A Byrne, K Murphy, P McLoughlin, D Healy, N Gaffney 0-1, A McLoughlin (J Stafford 1-0, 55 mins) D Hayden 0-1, P McWater (P Dalton 60 mins), R Finn, S Furlong 0-3, C McGraynor 0-2, L Glynn 2-1

Referee: C O'Hagan (Fermanagh).

Belfast Telegraph