/ GAA

Antrim 0-11 Galway 0-10

Updated: Saturday, 14 Jul 2012 18:07

Liam Bradley's Antrim pulled off a huge shock when getting the better of Galway in Casement Park
Liam Bradley's Antrim pulled off a huge shock when getting the better of Galway in Casement Park

Antrim pulled off a sensational 0-11 to 0-10 win over Galway at Casement Park to book their place in the third round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.

Substitute Deaghlan O’Hagan’s injury-time point was all that separated the sides who had been level nine times during the contest.

Galway led 0-05 to 0-04 at half-time, but the McCann brothers, Michael and Tomas, scored 0-05 between them in the second half as the Saffrons edged their way to a famous victory.

The Tribesmen, who have not won a back door game since 2004, thought they had done enough when substitute Padraic Joyce's free in the last minute of normal time put them a point ahead.

Antrim kept pressing, however, and Tomas McCann grabbed an equalizer in the first minute of injury-time before O’Hagan's brave effort a minute later booked a place in the third round draw.

It had seemed as though extra-time was inevitable after a second half which was a vast improvement on the first. Once again, Galway made mistakes at crucial times and when they lost possession, the ball was worked to O'Hagan who took the responsibility to shoot for glory.

There will be much soul searching in Galway after another shattering back door defeat. They have lost to a lot of teams they should have beaten in the qualifiers and this was the fourth year in-a-row they lost by a single point (after going down to Donegal, Wexford and Meath).

Veteran forward Joyce came on with 10 minutes to go and tried to lead the way, but Antrim played with more fire and were better organised.

A goal would have been a huge score in such a tight game but Michael Meehan spilled the ball when he had a good chance and Kevin O'Boyle was able to clear the danger. Galway were a point ahead at the break after a disappointing first-half when the visitors had the wind.

Both teams probed and felt each other out, but there was not much purpose to the attacks. Played at a pedestrian pace, the build-up play was slow and laborious with way too much lateral passing.

The fact that both teams were struggling to convert their frees meant that it was fairly low-scoring in the first half. Meehan missed three frees, only just finding his range before the half-time whistle when he landed his first. Tomas McCann also missed a couple for the hosts.

Galway attacker Sean Armstrong was taken off before half-time after failing to fire on the forty. Mark Hehir was moved out from the corner to centre-forward to try and get more involved in the game although he did land three frees from three attempts.

Tomas McCann clipped over the first point in the second minute but two Hehir frees put Galway in front. Antrim thought they were taking a grip on proceedings when Aodhan Gallagher, an early substitute for the injured Conal Kelly, and Michael McCann burst forward to score two points in-a-row. But Galway finished the first period strongly with Paul Conroy’s spectacular effort putting them ahead again.

Antrim carved out the first goal chance but Owen Gallagher did not react quickly enough to Tomas McCann’s pass and he fumbled the ball with the net gaping. There was far greater urgency to the second half and the tempo was significantly upped.

It made for a better spectacle and Antrim made the better of it with three successive points from play, including two superb efforts from midfielder Michael McCann.

Galway boss Alan Mulholland had seen enough and withdrew Joe Bergin, who was supposed to be marking McCann. Conor Doherty’s point brought Galway level on the hour mark, which signalled the arrival of Padraic Joyce.

With his first touch, Joyce fisted the ball over the crossbar to put Galway ahead for the first time in the second half. That lifted Galway's spirits temporarily but almost inevitably, Antrim got an equalizer though Tomas McCann.

Joyce’s free in the 70th minute looked like it might be enough but Tomas McCann and O’Hagan both scored in injury-time to send Liam Bradley's charges into the next round.

ANTRIM: C Kerr; A Healey, R Johnston, K O'Boyle; T Scullion, J Crozier, J Loughrey (0-01); M McCann (0-03), O Gallagher; C Murray, M Sweeney, C Kelly (0-01); T McCann (0-04, 0-02f), K Niblock, M Johnston.

Subs used: A Gallagher (0-01) for Kelly (20 mins), M Magill for O Gallagher (47), M Armstrong for Murray (67), D O’Hagan (0-01) for Healey (69).

GALWAY: A Faherty; K Kelly, F Hanley, J Duane; G Bradshaw, G O'Donnell (0-01), T Fahy; J Bergin, F O Curraoin; G Sice, S Armstrong, C Doherty (0-01); M Meehan (0-02, 0-02f), P Conroy (0-01), M Hehir (0-03, 0-03f).

Subs used: D Cummins for Armstrong (34 mins), T Flynn for Bergin (45), K McGrath for Fahy (46), P Joyce (0-02, 0-01f) for Hehir (60), G Sweeney for Doherty (67).