Down 2-18 Antrim 2-16
Down left it late, but they sealed their second win of the league campaign in dramatic fashion against Antrim this evening.
The Saffrons led for the majority of the game, but in the dying moments Conor Laverty’s men produced the goods and displayed a never say die attitude that eventually paid off.
Pat Havern was the hero. He was the one who lumped the high ball into the square, which was punched to the net by Conor Poland to level the game, before the Saval man drove over the score that handed Down the lead for the first time since the 23rd minute.
It was far from pretty at times for Down, but they’ll care little as they head into the break with two wins from two.
Barry O’Hagan’s opening two points sandwiched scores from Antrim’s two Ruairi McCann’s. The Aghagallon version claimed and pointed a mark before Cargin’s McCann, a late replacement for Colum Duffin, struck over from a free.
Down almost rattled the net, but Liam Kerr’s direct run was brilliantly tipped wide from Michael Byrne with Niall Kane chipping over the resulting 45.
Conor Stewart, who was brilliant on the night, tagged on another Antrim score while Andrew Gilmore, Kerr and O’Hagan put Down ahead. But just as it seemed Down were finding their groove, the momentum shifted. Down’s kickout press backfired.
Michael Byrne got their restart passed the press and the ball found full forward McCann who nailed the game’s first goal.
Stewart and Gilmore traded scores before the St John’s clubman raised a green flag for Down, palming home to the net after good work from Kerr.
But again, just as Down got their noses ahead, Antrim retaliated. Stewarts shot bounced back off the post and a dummy handpass from McCann left him an empty net to tap into.
Patrick Finnegan followed with a point, which was soon cancelled out by Odhran Murdock. The game was stopped for a prolonged period, as Down’s Barry O’Hagan was stretchered off through injury.
When play resumed, Declan Lynch set up James McAuley for a point, which was match by Murdock just before the break. Antrim held a three-point lead at the interval, 2-8 to 1-9.
Kerr and Pat Havern got Down up and running in the second half, but their scores were cancelled out by Michael Byrne (45) and Ryan Murray.
Dominic McEnhill swapped scores with Gilmore and Shay Millar while Adam Loughran’s first saw Antrim maintain their three-point advantage.
The sides were pretty much score for score until Poland’s three-pointer left it all square. Havern powered over a huge point while Gilmore stretched the lead to two. McEnhill added another for Antrim, but it was enough to salvage something from the game.