Antrim boss Liam Bradley was full of praise for his charges after they turned round a five-point first-half deficit to claim the first points of their Division 2 campaign against Meath on Saturday night.
Antrim trailed by five points, 0-6 to 0-1, after 22 minutes but then started to get to grips with midfield where Sean Burke was immense for the home side and notched six unanswered scores to take a one-point lead into the half-time break.
“At the start of the year we wanted to win our home games and we knew this was a game we could win,” said Bradley.
“The players showed a bit of character to pull through.
“There’s more people than enough have doubted the character of this team, all you read is negative press, but we showed that we have as good footballers in Antrim as anywhere in this country.
“Meath came at us in the last 10 minutes and we held firm and rode our luck and wee bit, it was a very dubious penalty but thank God they hit the post with it.”
The penalty came in the 65th minute and threw Meath a lifeline after Antrim had stretched four points clear, 0-14 to 0-10.
Joe Sheridan was fouled and the same player stepped up to convert the spot-kick but watched it cannon off the foot of the post.
Meath, who shot 13 wides over the 70 minutes have plenty to work on before their next outing against Donegal in two weeks’ time.
However, that should not detract from an excellent team performance from Antrim who were without a number of key players.
Andy McLean and Dean O’Neill were withdrawals while Colin Brady and Michael McCann are on the injured list.
“This is a hole that we need to get out of and now is the time to work our way out of it,” said Meath boss Seamus McEnaney.
“It is certainly a disappointing position to be in but there are still eight points up for grabs and it’s up to us to target two points against Donegal in Navan in two weeks’ time.
“I think that we came here to take the game by the scruff of the neck and we did that.”
The second half was level four times by the 57th minute when Meath sub Cian Ward converted a free to tie the score at 0-10 apiece.
Earlier Niblock had a half chance on goal for the Saffrons but a cynical foul by Brian Meade saw the centre back receive his second yellow card.
Four unanswered scores from Paddy Cunningham, who finished with 0-9, set the Saffrons on course for their first points in Division 2. Meath sub Thomas Walsh also saw red late on.
Antrim: O’Neill, Healy, Douglas, O’Boyle, Scullion (0-2), Crozier, O’Neill (0-1), McGourty, Burke (0-1), Gallagher, Brady, Murray, Cunningham (0-9, 0-8f), Niblock (0-1), B Herron. Subs: Johnston for Crozier, Dougan for Niblock, Sweeney for Brady
Meath: Murphy, O’Brien, Reilly, King, Kenny, Meade, McGuinness, Ward, Gillespie, McAnarney, Farrell, Reilly (0-3), Morgan (0-1), Sheridan (0-1), O’Rourke (0-3, 0-2f). Subs: C Ward (0-3, 0-2f) for Farrell, Crawford for M Ward, Menton for Reilly, Nestor for Morgan, Walsh for Gillespie
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).