Cunningham’s seven seals it for Antrim
Antrim 0-17 Fermanagh 0-8
It was all too easy as Antrim cruised to a third successive league victory at Casement Park .
Paddy Cunningham led the charge with seven points from play as the Saffrons cemented their place at the top of Division Three.
A Fermanagh side ravaged by injuries was in contention for the opening 20 minutes, but they were always fighting a losing battle after Ryan Carson was dismissed following an off-the-ball incident.
Liam Bradley’s men, making full use of the extra man, led 0-8 to 0-4 at half time and from there to the finish there was only going to be one winner.
When it was all over Bradley was happy to allow Tony Scullion to do all the talking, which was appropriate given his contribution to Antrim football over the years including last season’s peach of a goal against Kerry in the All Ireland football qualifiers.
“It’s a great feeling to be top of Division Three. There was a feeling in some quarters that we might just find the going tough in this division, but so far so good.
“In Division Three we’re coming up against more difficult opposition and still winning, but you sometimes feel that there are people out there waiting for us to fall flat on our face,” he said.
But Scullion warns there’s no danger to a return to the bad old days when Antrim were the whipping boys of Ulster football.
“When you stand listening to the manager Liam Bradley and Niall Conway there’s no danger of that happening,” he said.
“During the week Fermanagh made a big deal of being short so many players through injury, but at the end of the day it was still 15 against 15.
“Liam Bradley has been a great unifying force putting an end to the town v country conflict that had plagued the county side for years. If you don’t train for Liam Bradley, regardless of who you are, you will be getting a taxi fare up the road and told not to come back.”
The St Galls players have still to return to the county squad and while Scullion will welcome them back with open arms, he’s adamant no player can be sure of a place.
Fermanagh will continue to struggle until hard-pressed manager Malachy O’Rourke is able to pick from a full squad.
Antrim: McGreevy, McCann, Douglas, O’Boyle (0-1), T Scullion, Crozier, O’Hagan, M McCann, Herron, Close (0-1), McCann (0-2), Loughrey (0-1), Cunningham (0-7, 0-5f), Magill (0-2), O’Boyle (0-1). Subs: Murray 0-1 (for A Douglas), K Brady (for G O’Boyle), M Pollock (for K Close), P Carey (for J Crozier).
Fermanagh: Jackson, Bogue, McGovern, Goan, Ward, Mulrone, McElroy (0-2), Sherry, Cosgrove, Connolly, M Keenan (0-1f), R Jones (0-1f), Flaherty, Carson (0-3f), Keenan. Subs: Lyons (for N McGovern), R Keenan (for D Keenan), P Ward (for J Connolly), McElroy 0-1 (for J Sherry).
Referee: C Reynolds (Down).