Ulster Under-21 Football: Holders Monaghan beat spirited Saffrons in opener

Seamus McGarry is about to fire over an Antrim point at the Dub
Seamus McGarry's impressive scoring haul couldn't prevent Antrim losing to the holders

Holders Monaghan held off a spirited Antrim challenge to earn a 2-14 to 0-16 win in the Ulster Under-21 Football preliminary-round game at the Dub.

Seamus McGarry hit nine points for the Saffrons with Odhran Eastwood contributing 0-4 for the home side.

Dermot Gleeson's 14th-minute goal put Monaghan two ahead but Antrim fought back to level by half-time.

McGarry's sixth point edged Antrim ahead but David Garland's goal gave Monaghan lead they didn't relinquish.

This is the final year of the All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship with the new under-20 grade coming into effect in 2018.

Eastwood's opening point and two McGarry scores helped Antrim lead 0-3 to 0-2 before Gleeson netted for the Farney County, who again are managed by former Tyrone star Ciaran McBride this year.

Antrim notched four of the next five points to lead by one but Micheal Bannigan's second point of the half and a Fergal Hanratty score helped Monaghan regain the lead before an Eastwood free levelled the contest by half-time.

Two more Eastwood frees and McGarry's sixth point contributed to Antrim moving 0-13 to 1-9 ahead but then came Monaghan's crucial second goal as Garland netted in the 44th minute.

Two Barry Kerr points held Monaghan move three up with 13 minutes of normal time left and despite McGarry's two late points, the visitors had done enough to set up a quarter-final meeting with Derry next week.

Monaghan won the contest despite being without star player Barry McGinn, who is out for the season because of a cruciate ligament injury.

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