All-Ireland qualifier Round 1B: Antrim beaten 2-06 to 0-09 by Limerick

Matthew Fitzpatrick and Johnny McCarthy
Limerick's Johnny McCarthy and Antrim's Matthew Fitzpatrick in action at Corrigan Park

Antrim lost 2-06 to 0-09 to Limerick in their All-Ireland Qualifier Round 1B game at Corrigan Park on Saturday.

Limerick had not won a competitive game all year but early goals from Ian Ryan and and Sean McSweeney, a penalty, set them on their way to victory.

The hosts led 2-2 to 0-6 at the interval and kicked on to the win thanks to points from McSweeney, Ryan and Stephen Cahill.

Goalkeeper Donal O'Sullivan made three crucial excellent saves for Limerick.

Antrim's championship campaign came to an end in disappointing fashion as the Saffrons were unable to follow up their promotion to Division Three of the Football League.

Antrim make use of wind advantage

Antrim used the wind to their advantage in the opening half and a free from Ryan Murphy after 40 seconds and a Kevin Niblock score from the right saw the home side into a 0-2 to 0-0 lead.

The visitors got a huge boost when Seanie Buckley picked out Ryan at the edge of the square and the St Senan's man hit the net with a low shot past Chris Kerr after five minutes.

Antrim conceded a second goal just three minutes later from McSweeney's penalty kick. Midfielder Darragh Treacy was fouled when he managed to get in behind the Antrim cover.

McSweeney kept his nerve to drill the ball into the bottom right corner of the net to push Limerick into a 2-01 to 0-02 advantage.

Those goals gave Limerick a lot of confidence but Antrim responded well.

Matthew Fitzpatrick was the first Antrim man to find his range with a good score from the right in the 13th minute - maybe he could have gone for goal - and four minutes later Patrick McBride kicked his side's fourth point to cut the gap to three points.

Tommy Childs was a late introduction for injured Limerick captain Iain Corbett, and he impressed around the middle and laid on a fine score from the right for Ryan after 18 minutes.

Ryan had a great chance for his second goal nine minutes from time when he got up ahead of substitute Martin Johnson, only for Kerr to deny him with a great save with his feet.

And Antrim then finished the half strongly and McBride and Sean Burke pointed to make it a two-point lead at the interval.

Limerick start second half brightly

Armed with a two-point lead and a strengthening wind at their back, Limerick were bright from the off in the second period and after some solid defensive play, it was corner-back Cahill that extended their lead to three in the 44th minute.

After shooting just six points in 50 minutes Antrim were always going to need a goal to launch a comeback and that chance came to Martin Johnson as he cut in from the right, but Donal O'Sullivan pulled off a super save to keep his goal intact.

The introduction of Tomas McCann gave Antrim a much needed injection of pace up front and he followed a free from Ryan Murray with one of his own to cut the Limerick lead to two points with nine minutes remaining.

Ryan pushed that out to a goal with a free but Antrim twice went close to finding the net in the closing stages but O'Sullivan produced great saves to deny Ryan Murray and Martin Johnson and book their place in the next round.

Limerick: D O'Sullivan; P Browne, S Cahill (0-1), S O'Dea; B Fanning, J McCarthy, P Ranahan; D Treacy, S Buckley; G Noonan, P Nash, T Childs; S McSweeney (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-3f), I Ryan (1-2), H Bourke.

Subs: E Hogan for Bourke (50 mins), P Hannon for Nash (63 mins), I Corbett for Childs (66 mins).

Antrim: C Kerr; K O'Boyle, J Crozier, R Johnson; P McBride (0-2), P Gallagher, M Sweeney; S McVeigh, M McCann; J Laverty, M Fitzpatrick (0-1), K Niblock (0-2, 1f)); R Murray (0-2f), N McKeever, S Burke (0-1).

Subs: M Johnson for McVeigh (20 mins), D McAleese for Laverty (30 mins), C Murray for Gallagher (h-t), P McAleer for R Johnson (h-t), T McCann for McKeever (56 mins), J Carron for Burke (66 mins).

Top Stories