Antrim 1-13 2-9 Carlow

Antrim manager Liam Bradley
Liam Bradley exhorts his Antrim players to produce better in Saturday's game

Antrim edged out Carlow in an exciting All-Ireland Football qualifier.

The Saffrons led 0-6 to 0-2 but three Daniel St Ledger points left Carlow only one behind at the break.

Eoin Ruth's goal then helped Carlow lead by three but Mark Dougan's goal restored Antrim's lead after a mistake by keeper Trevor O'Reily.

Carlow's Ed Finnegan was sent off Antrim moved five ahead but Brendan Murphy's goal ensured a tense finish before the Saffrons held on.

Antrim boss Liam Bradley again started without Paddy Cunningham but the forward's introduction after half-time proved vital for the Saffrons as he struck four crucial points.

With Gerard O'Boyle starting in place of Cunningham, the impressive Conor Murray nudged Antrim ahead before two Dara Foley points put Carlow ahead.

Antrim then took control as they hit five unanswered points although they lost skipper Kevin O'Boyle because of a suspected knee injury.

However, the Saffrons lost their way before half-time as St Ledger responded with three frees to leave the minimum between the teams at the break.

It got even better for Carlow immediately after the restart as Ruth's goal put the visitors two points ahead.

Another Foley point extended Carlow's lead to three and it was at that point that Liam Bradley introduced Cunningham for Tomas McCann, who had missed a number of straightforward frees.

Cunningham was straight into the fray with two points to cut Carlow's lead to one.

Another Saffron sub Dougan then made a crucial contribution as he fired into the net from close range after keeper O'Reilly had failed to hold a high ball.

In the move which led to the goal, Carlow defender Finnegan had appeared to elbow Gerard O'Boyle and he received a straight red card after the advantage had been played.

With Cunningham, Niblock and Murray adding further points, the Saffrons looked in control as they extended their lead to 1-13 to 1-8.

But the 14-man Carlow side bravely regrouped with Brendan Murphy lobbing a superb goal past new Saffron keeper Willie McSorley after the Antrim custodian had brilliantly denied the same player a minute earlier with a diving save.

A further St Ledger point cut the margin to one and Carlow did have enough possesson to have fashioned an equaliser but the relieved Saffrons held on to go into Sunday evening's third-round qualifier draw.

All-Ireland Football Qualifiers

Down 1-16 1-8 Leitrim

Antrim 1-13 2-9 Carlow

Limerick 3-13 0-15 Offaly

Longford 0-15 1-17 Tyrone

Armagh 0-19 2-13 Wicklow (aet)

Meath 0-11 0-10 Galway

Laois 0-10 3-16 Kildare

London 0-13 1-17 Waterford

All-Ireland Hurling Qualifiers

Cork 1-14 2-23 Galway

Antrim 0-12 3-22 Limerick

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