All-Ireland SFC Qualifier: Sligo defeat 14-man Antrim
All-Ireland SFC Qualifier Round 1A
SLIGO 0-22 Antrim 3-7
By Declan Rooney at Markievicz Park
Stephen Coen kicked eight second-half points as Sligo recovered from the concession of two goals in six minutes to reach Round 2A of the football qualifiers with a 0-22 to 3-7 win at Markievicz Park.
Antrim had Jack Dowling sent off in between the two goals early in the second-half, but 12 unanswered points from Sligo after the second goal game them the cushion they needed.
Antrim struck a third goal in the 73rd minute from Paddy McBride, but Coen, Adrian Marren and Pat Hughes saw Sligo over the line.
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 12th minute, 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 Jack Dowling was shown a straight red card for a collision with Mark 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.
Scorers for Sligo: Stephen Coen 0-8 (4f), Adrian Marren 0-5 (3f), Patrick O’Connor 0-2, N Murphy 0-2, Pat Hughes 0-2, M Breheny 0-1 (1f), Eoin McHugh 0-1, Kevin McDonnell 0-1.
Scorers for Antrim: Antrim: CJ McGourty 1-2 (1-0pen, 2f), Paddy McBride 1-1, M Fitzpatrick 1-0, Conor Murray 0-3, Tomas McCann 0-1
*Sligo: *Aidan Devaney; Ross Donovan, Eoin McHugh, Charlie Harrison; Keelan Cawley, Brendan Egan, Neil Ewing; Adrian McIntyre, Patrick O'Connor; John Kelly, Mark Breheny, Niall Murphy; Stephen Coen, Pat Hughes, Adrian Marren. *Subs: *Kevin McDonnell for McHugh (35+8), Kyle Cawley for Breheny (44), Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch for Keelan Cawley (53), Stephen Gilmartin for Kelly (63), Stephen Henry for Hughes (67), Darragh Cummins for O’Connor (68), Peter Laffey for Harrison (70+6).
Antrim: *Chris Kerr (c); Niall Delargy, Patrick Gallagher, Conor Hamill; Paddy McBride, Declan Lynch, Paddy McAleer; Sean McVeigh, Stephen Beatty; Conor Murray, Mathew Fitzpatrick, Mark Sweeney; CJ McGourty, Tomas McCann, Ruairi McCann. *Subs: Kevin O’Boyle for McAleer (10-37 temp), Owen Gallagher for R McCann (25), Jack Dowling for Beatty (35+4), Peter Healy for Sweeney (56 BC), Ryan Murray for T McCann (62), Brendan Bradley for McGourty (62).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).