Twelve unanswered points in the second-half saw Sligo over the line against 14-man Antrim and into Round 2A of the football qualifiers as the Yeats men claimed a 0-22 to 3-7 win at Markevicz Park.
Stephen Coen kicked all eight of his points after the break for Sligo, who finally shook off a poor first-half and the concession of goals to CJ McGourty and Matthew Fitzpatrick early in the second-half.
Adrian Marren and Pat Haughes also found their shooting boots in the closing stages, but Coen’s eight points were vital to the Sligo win. Antrim had Jack Dowling sent off following a collision with Mark Breheny and in the end the extra man paid dividends.
Starting off into a wind that died off altogether by half-time, Sligo would have been happy to take the lead in the second minute when Adrian Marren tapped over a free after a foul on Niall Murphy –
Murphy was a doubt all week to start this game, but was deemed fit enough to play after his hamstring problems.
Antrim were also able to call on the services of Conor Murray for the first time since his two-game suspension, and he seemed intent on making up for lost time in the first-half and was the key man in nearly every positive attack from Frank Fitzsimmons’ side. Four minutes in he drove over a great score from the right when he beat Keelan Cawley to the ball, and a couple of minutes later he hit an even better one from 55 metres near the right sideline for a 0-2 to 0-1 lead.
Any time Sligo matched up on the Antrim defenders the Ulster goalkeeper Chris Kerr had real trouble picking out a player in a yellow shirt, but after he kicked a couple of restarts straight over the sideline the got their short game working well and that eased their kick-out problems.
Murphy blazed over the bar when he had a decent goal chance to level matters in the 12thminute, and despite a fine Tomas McCann score to give Antrim the lead, Sligo hit a couple of quick sores to take control again.
Fouls on Matthew Fitzpatrick and the direct-running Murray allowed CJ McGourty push Antrim clear by the 30-minute mark. But after nine minutes of added-time thanks to injuries to Paddy McAleer – who was 27 minutes off the field with a blood injury – and Eoin McHugh, Sligo kicked three of the last four points, two of which came from Patrick O’Connor, to lead 0-7 to 0-6 at the interval.
The game was tuned on its head three minutes after the resumption when Ross Donovan fouled Owen Gallagher and McGourty buried the resultant penalty for a two-point lead.
But he followed it up with a poor missed free, and when Dowling was shown a straight red card for a collision with Breheny, Antrim looked in big trouble.
But in the 44th minute Matthew Fitzpatrick was fortunate to see his shot for a point loop in over the head of Aidan Devaney, which gave his side a 2-6 to 0-8 lead.
But with the man advantage and superior fitness levels to call on, Sligo set about cutting that four-point lead. Stephen Coen took the free-taking duties from the injured Breheny and shot three frees, while two more from Pat Hughes saw Sligo over the line.
Sligo: A Devaney; R Donovan, E McHugh (0-01), C Harrison; Keelan Cawley, B Egan, J Kelly; A McIntyre, P O'Connor (0-02); N Ewing, M Breheny (0-01, 0-01f), N Murphy (0-02); S Coen (0-08, 0-04f), P Hughes (0-02), A Marren (0-05, 0-03f).
Subs: K McDonnell (0-01) for McHugh (35+8), Kyle Cawley for Breheny (44), G O’Kelly-Lynch for Keelan Cawley (53), S Gilmartin for Kelly (63), S Henry for Hughes (67), D Cummins for O’Connor (68), P Laffey for Harrison (76).
Antrim: C Kerr (c); N Delargy, P Gallagher, C Hamill; P McBride (1-01), D Lynch, P McAleer; S McVeigh, S Beatty; C Murray (0-03), M Fitzpatrick (1-00), M Sweeney; CJ McGourty (1-02, 1-00pen, 0-02f), T McCann (0-01), R McCann.
Subs: K O’Boyle for McAleer (10-37 temp), O Gallagher for R McCann (25), J Dowling for Beatty (35+4), P Healy for Sweeney (56 BC), R Murray for T McCann (62), B Bradley for McGourty (62).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).