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Fermanagh 3-13 Antrim 2-18

Updated: Sunday, 01 Jun 2014 22:04 | Comments

Kevin Niblock slotted home for Antrim's first goal after 39 minutes
Kevin Niblock slotted home for Antrim's first goal after 39 minutes

Antrim won a high-scoring Ulster SFC clash with Fermanagh by 3-13 to 2-18 at Brewster Park.

Antrim racked up 1-10 without reply in the first half, including a Brian Neeson goal, but Fermanagh recovered to trail by 1-10 to 1-05 at half-time.

The Saffrons pulled away again, with Kevin Niblock hitting a crucial 39th-minute goal.

Goals from Fermanagh's Barry Owens and Marty O'Brien made it a two-point game and Antrim needed a Kevin O'Boyle goal-line clearance to survive.

The Glensmen were the better team overall, but collapsed in the final few minutes.

They needed O'Boyle's heroics to deny Ryan McCluskey a match-winning goal.

Liam Bradley's side looked to have won the game twice, only for Fermanagh to finish strong in both halves.

Sean Quigley scored the opening point of the game after 18 seconds but Antrim scored an unanswered 1-10 to lead by 1-10 to 0-01 after 32 minutes, man-of-the-match Neeson with a well-taken goal on the half hour mark.

Fermanagh hit back with an unanswered 1-04 before the interval, with Sean Quigley fisting a goal to the net after 34 minutes.

Fermanagh also lost one of their best defenders, John Woods, to a suspected broken jaw during the first half.

Paul McCusker's point immediately after the restart reduced the deficit to four, before the momentum swung back in Antrim's favour.

Bradley's charges, who lost Conor Murray and James Laverty to black cards in each half, seized the initiative again with a point from Neeson and a timely goal from Niblock.

Substitute Ryan Murray scored two fine points and Neeson was on fire with three second half points as Antrim stretched clear again in their pursuit of a first Ulster Championship victory since 2009.



The visitors looked to have won the match for a second time when they led by 2-17 to 1-09 with 53 minutes played, but then the tide turned once more.

Quigley reduced the gap with a couple of close range frees and a mistake by the Antrim defence allowed Owens, who moved from full-back to full-forward, to blast the ball into the far corner of the net in the 62nd minute.

It still looked like Antrim would get over the line, with Quigley and Neeson trading scores, until injury-time when Fermanagh substitute O'Brien capitalised on another Antrim turnover in their own defence.

Eamon Maguire's pass across was buried to the net by O'Brien in the second minute of injury-time and the home supporters in the 8,265-strong crowd sensed there was still time for one last moment of drama.

Fermanagh won the kick-out and charged forward, with McCluskey bearing down on goal looking for an incredible winner.

McCluskey went for placement instead of power, and O'Boyle got behind rookie goalkeeper Paddy Flood and brilliantly kicked the ball off the line in the last play of the game.

FERMANAGH: C Snow; R McCluskey, B Owens (1-00), J Woods; D McCusker, C Cullen, T McElroy; E Donnelly (0-01), R O'Callaghan; L Cullen, R Jones, P McCusker (0-03); P Ward (0-01, 0-0f), S Quigley (1-06, 0-05f), E Maguire (0-01).

Subs used: M O'Brien (1-01) for Woods (13 mins), A Breen for Ward, M Murphy for L Cullen (both 44), R Corrigan for P McCusker (52), B Mulrone for C Cullen (54).

ANTRIM: P Flood; K O'Boyle, R Johnston, N Delargy; M Johnston, J Crozier, J Laverty; M McCann (0-02), M Sweeney; C Murray, K Niblock (1-03, 0-01f), P McCann (0-02); B Neeson (1-06, 0-01f), N McKeever, T McCann (0-03, 0-02f).

Subs used: M Armstrong for Murray (18 mins, black card), P McBride for Laverty (36, black card), R Murray (0-02) for P McCann (42), D Lynch for Armstrong (59), S McVeigh for Sweeney (67).

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)

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