Thousands support Game for Anto

Dublin's Philly McMahon challenges Jamie Clarke of Ulster in the charity match at the Kingspan Stadium
Dublin's Philly McMahon challenges Jamie Clarke of Ulster in the charity match at the Kingspan Stadium

The unifying power of sport illuminated Kingspan Stadium as top GAA stars showcased their talents at the home of Ulster rugby.

Thousands of spectators showed solidarity with former Antrim captain Anto Finnegan in his fight against Motor Neurone Disease.

He was diagnosed with the incurable and terminal condition two years ago.

The 41-year-old launched his deterMND campaign to raise awareness of the illness and fund research.

An Ulster select took on Dublin in a special challenge match - Game for Anto - to highlight the campaign.

Dublin boss Jim Gavin fielded a strong side packed with All-Ireland winners, while Ulster managers Joe Kernan and Brian McEniff had some of the province's top stars in action on a special evening.

A crowd of 6,200 enjoyed a competitive but open friendly match, with some eye-catching scores from both sides.

Kevin McManamon netted after just 90 seconds, but Ulster countered instantly for Donal O'Hare to hit the net.

The opening half was a shoot-out between Jamie Clarke and Dean Rock and at the break the sides were deadlocked at 1-10 each.

Antrim midfielder Michael McCann galloped through for a goal within a minute of the restart and, with Paddy McBrearty coming off the bench to shoot four points, the Ulster men had the edge.

But Rock was on fire, bringing his tally to 10 points, with O'Gara and McManamon also on target to ensure a tight finish.

The northern province held out to win by two, thanks to late scores from Eoin Bradley and McBrearty.

With Casement Park currently undergoing redevelopment, the Ulster Branch agreed to host the event, with proceeds going to the Motor Neurone Disease Association to support research into MND.

Ulster scorers: D O'Hare, M McCann 1-1 each, J Clarke 0-5 (1f), P McBrearty 0-4 (1f), P Cuningham (1f), S Campbell 0-2 each, R Beggan ('45), K Dyas, E Bradley 0-1 each.

Dublin scorers: K McManamon 1-4, D Rock 0-10 (5f), E O'Gara 0-5.

Ulster: R Beggan; K Clarke, B Donaghy, G O'Kane; R McCluskey, P Harte; A Findon, M McCann; S Campbell, N McKeever; D O'Hare, K Dyas, J Clarke.

Subs used: C McKeever, C Gormley, R McMemanin, P McBrearty, D Gordon, T Kernan, P Cunningham, E Bradley, S McGreevy, K O'Boyle, M McGrath, R McHugh

Dublin: S Cluxton; David Byrne, P McMahon, D Daly; J McCaffrey, N Devereux; Davey Byrne, R Dunleavy; B Fenton, D Rock; P Ryan, E O'Gara, K McManamon.

Subs used: R McDaid, N Scully, N Walsh, P Ryan, L Molloy

Referee: P McEnaney (Monaghan).

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