Sligo dug deep for a second win of the campaign when they had a point to spare against a dogged Antrim at Markievicz Park`in Allianz Football League Division 4.

The home side should have made life easier for themselves, however, having hit 13 wides, and they also finished with 14 players due to the dismissal in second-half stoppage time of Red Og Murphy.

The Yeats County were inspired by midfielder and team captain Patrick O'Connor who scored 0-06. 

Paddy Cunningham was Antrim’s chief star, contributing nine points, but the visitors never managed to get ahead in the second-half.

Both teams came into this fixture having won their opening round games – Antrim defeated Wexford by six points and Sligo scored five goals in their away victory against London.

The significance of Sligo’s win in Ruislip is that it ended a 13-game losing streak, the Connacht outfit having previously won a competitive game in May of 2018.

It is 10 years since Sligo and Antrim won promotion from Division Three – they also contested the Division Four final in 2009 – and now both counties are scrambling to emerge from the AFL’s basement tier.

Antrim went with the same starting XV that defeated Wexford, with Sligo drafting in Neil Ewing for the injured Conor Griffin.

Sligo enjoyed more possession during the tit-for-tat first-half and inside the opening five minutes had established a 0-93 to 0-01 lead, two of these early scores coming from O’Connor and ex-AFL rookie Murphy.

Antrim were grateful for goalkeeper Oisin Kerr’s 10th minute stop to thwart Murphy’s goalbound effort from a tight angle.

Emboldened by that save, the visitors found their feet and with 18 minutes played they were 0-05 to 0-04 in front.

Conor Murray’s excellent point put Antrim ahead for the first time and their experienced talisman Paddy Cunningham was also finding the range – he would finish the opening period with 0-05 of Antrim’s tally.

After Sligo levelled with an O’Connor pointed free, making it 0-05 each, matters were evenly-contested.

Sligo, who kicked seven first-half wides, edged in front before the break, 0-09 to 0-08, with a close-range point from Darragh Cummins.

It was also a well-contested second-half.

Sligo went three points clear with 53 minutes played, 0-13 to 0-10, with Patrick O’Connor and Keelan Cawley landing the best of their points.

But Sligo were unable to completely dominate proceedings and were sloppy with possession.

Antrim kept in touch, mainly through accurate free-taker Paddy Cunningham, but it was significant that they were only able to get level once in the second-half and the 47th minute black card for substitute Kevin Quinn was a blow.

O'Connor made it 0-15 to 0-13 with a free as injury-time approached and while Cunningham added one more, the home side stayed in front for the final whistle. 

Sligo: Aidan Devaney, John Francis Carr, Eddie McGuinness, Mikey Gordon, Nathan Mullen, Paul McNamara, Sean Carrabine (0-01), Patrick O’Connor (0-06, 3f), Paul Kilcoyne, Keelan Cawley (0-01), Neil Ewing, Darragh Cummins (0-01), Liam Gaughan (0-03, 2f), Cian Lally, Red Og Murphy (0-03)

Subs used: Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch for Neil Ewing, h-t; Pat Hughes for Cian Lally, 43; Joseph O’Reilly for Keelan Cawley, 54; Stephen Coen for Darragh Cummins, 59; Adrian Marren for Liam Gaughan, 70+2

Antrim: Oisin Kerr, Patrick Gallagher, Ricky Johnston, Mark Gardiner, Declan Lynch (0-01), James McAuley, Peter Healy, Ruairi McCann, Marc Jordan, Eunan Walsh, Patrick McBride, Niall Delargy, Patrick Cunningham (0-09, 6f), Colum Duffin (0-01), Conor Murray (0-02)

Subs used: Kevin Quinn for Mark Gardiner, h-t; Conor Small for Patrick McBride, 42; Odhran Eastwood (0-01, 1 mark) for Eunan Walsh, 54; Dermot McAleese for Colum Duffin, 60; Eoin Nagle for Ruairi McCann, 67

Referee: Niall McKenna (Monaghan)