Antrim wait goes on as Down march on to Ulster semi-final
Antrim tactics backfire in Newry as Mournemen triumph
Down’s Kevin McKernan celebrates after scoring a goal in the Ulster SFC quarter-final against Antrim at Páirc Esler in Newry. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho
Down 1-18 Antrim 0-14
And so the wait goes on for another year for Antrim.
Down pressurised the visitors from the start by pushing two banks of attackers up on goalkeeper Chris Kerr’s kickout. This had two effects – when he went long they could not get past Down’s fireman midfielder Peter Turley who was in imperious form.
But when they attempted to go short, they were guilty of hideous mix-ups, one of which caused the goal on the stroke of half-time which all but ended the challenge of Antrim and led to the Newry crowd thinning out with other sporting contests in mind.
The Ulster Council must have heard the distinct sound of chickens coming home to roost when they consider their folly of hosting a match that clashed directly with the Champions League final.
To set it in some context, there were 16,500 at a fixture between these two in 2000, whereas the attendance this time was was 5,589.
With Niall McKeever and Ryan Murray as the only two forwards and an unwillingness to get up the field in support, they were never able to punch holes in the Down defence and never once looked as if they might trouble Marc Reid’s goal.
Down patiently held onto the ball and worked chances either through the overlap, with Caolan Mooney able to get behind the lines of defence, or else kicking scores from distance.
The game’s only goal came when a Kerr kickout wasn’t seized upon by corner back Niall Delargy. Shay Millar nipped in to gain possession, headed straight for goal but kept his cool to dish off to Kevin McKernan who slid a shot low into the net.
DOWN: M Reid; C Flanagan, B McArdle (0-1), A Doherty (0-2, frees); B O’Hagan, N McParland, C Mooney (0-1); P Turley, N Donnelly; K McKernan (1-1), C Maginn (0-2), S Millar (0-2); D O’Hare (0-7, five frees), C Harrison (0-1), R Millar.
Replacements: S Dornan (0-2) for K McKernan (h/t, bc), J Flynn for R Millar (51 mins), R McAleenan for C Flanagan, D McKibbin for C Mooney (both 56), C McGrady for C Harrison (60), N Madine for D O’Hare (67)
ANTRIM: C Kerr; P Healy, P Gallagher, N Delargy; K O’Boyle, R Johnston, J Laverty; P McAleer, N McKeever; M Sweeney, C Murray (0-2), R McCann; R Murray (0-4, one free), M Fitzpatrick (0-1), P McBride (0-4, two frees).
Replacements: C Duffin (0-1) for (h/t) P Gallagher; S Beatty for N McKeever, K Healy (0-2) for R McCann (both 50), D Lynch for J Laverty (56), O Eastwood for P McAleer (63), M McCarry for P Healy (70).