Football League Division Four North: Cunningham the hero as Antrim edge past Sligo with last kick of match

Niall Murphy
Niall Murphy scored 2-5 for Sligo but was sent off late on

Paddy Cunningham has said Antrim "had to dig deep" after winning by a last-minute point for the second Division Four game in succession.

Cunningham's winner with the last kick of the game ensured Antrim beat Sligo by 3-13 to 3-12 in a thrilling game at Corrigan Park.

Antrim top Division Four North thanks to the two late victories.

"It wasn't too comfortable to play in but we dug in to the end and it is a big result," said Cunningham.

"It was definitely end to end and it could have went either way. I'd say it was a very exciting game for the neutral."

The sides went in level at the break but Sligo took control as Niall Murphy scored his second penalty of the match.

Antrim fought back and nearly snatched the win when Eunan Walsh scored in injury-time but Nathan Rooney converted a penalty seconds later at the other end to level the game once more.

However Cunningham split the posts with the final kick of the match with an excellent score.

"We were under serious pressure away to Louth last week and we dug in to the final whistle," added forward Cunningham.

"It doesn't really mean a lot to me personally. There is a good mix of youth and experience, in years gone by when their goal went in we would have lost by a point so I think it is something that the management are really trying to put into us.

"We have a big three weeks down the line and hopefully a play-off to look forward to against the Southern Division team, whoever that may be.

"There is a lot of hard work to do, we will be looking to put in another performance next week."

Slow start, frantic finish

It was a slow start at Corrigan Park, however a goal chance for Antrim kicked the game into life. Adam Loughran played an excellent ball in for the unmarked Kevin Small, who slipped as he looked to gather the ball with the goal gaping.

Eastwood kicked an excellent point and his goal put daylight between the sides. Small saw his powerful shot blocked by Eamon Kilgannon however Eastwood was in the right place to pick the ball up and fire into the unguarded net.

Two points by Sean Carrabine got Sligo on the board but Mark Jordan netted Antrim's second goal with a composed finish after he was played din by Conor Murray and he leathered the ball beyond Kilgannon.

Carrabine and Niall Murphy halted the Antrim momentum however Eastwood's free before the water break gave the hosts a 2-2 to 0-4 lead.

Ryan Murray kicked his first free of the game for Enda McGinley's men but Murphy and Conor Griffin's excellent solo finish again kept Sligo in touch.

Niall Murphy won a penalty on 24 minutes when he fell under a challenge by goalkeeper Michael Byrne and Declan Lynch. The forward dusted himself down and dispatched an excellent penalty to level the scores.

Ricky Johnston and Ruairi McCann restored Antrim's lead, Murphy hit straight back for the visitors with two well-taken points. Eastwood's excellent score put Antrim ahead on the stroke of half-time, but the hosts had Ryan Murray black-carded and Sligo immediately capitalised when Murray kicked a free as the sides went in at 2-6 to 1-09.

Antrim fight back after Sligo penalty

The wind and rain picked up during the break, but Sligo's free takers continued where they left off when Carrabine popped over a point after a foul was moved forward after indiscipline by the hosts and Cian Lally knocked over another point from play.

Eunan Walsh and Conor Murray brought Antrim level once more however the game soon swung in Sligo's favour when Paddy O'Connor was brought down as he looked to tuck the ball into the Antrim net.

Sligo were awarded their second penalty of the game and Murphy converted into the bottom right corner just before Darragh Cummins put four points between the sides at the water break.

Paddy McBride's point from play offered the Saffrons a much-needed reprieve and Ryan Murray, back on after his black card, brought the margin down to one with 10 minutes to play with two points.

Murphy picked up a second yellow card in the closing stages as Sligo ended the game with 14 men but and Walsh touched the ball in the net with what many thought was the winning goal.

Referee then awarded Sligo a penalty seconds later for denying goalscoring opportunity in the 'D' and Rooney converted in the 42nd minute of the second half to level the game once more.

However substitute Cunningham, who turned 36 this week, kicked a superb point to secure a last-gasp win for Antrim for the second week in a row.

Antrim: Byrne, McAuley, Lynch, Healy, Jordan (1-0), Laverty, McAleese, Stewart, McKeever, R Murray (0-4), Loughran, R McCann (0-1), Eastwood (1-3), Small, C Murray (0-1).

Subs: Mulholland, Bradley, Crozier, Cunningham (0-1), Delargy, Johnston (0-1), McBride (0-1), McCabe, T McCann, McCormick, Walsh (1-1).

Sligo: Kilgannon, Lyons, McGuinness, Feehily, Cummins (0-1), McNamara, Cawley, Kilcoyne, O'Connor, Griffin (0-1), Lally (0-1), Quinn, R Murphy, N Murphy (2-5), Carrabine (0-4).

Subs: Davey, Gordon, Mullen, McGovern, Kennedy, G Gorman, McKenna, Conlon, Rooney (1-0), Naughton, B Gorman.

Sunday's Allianz Football League results

Division One South
Dublin 4-09Kerry1-18
Galway2-13Roscommon1-13
Division Two South
Kildare0-13Clare1-13
Division Two North
Down0-14Meath2-15
Division Four North
Leitrim0-10Louth0-19
Antrim3-13Sligo3-12

Top Stories

Also in NI Sport