Great days for the Saffrons

1: Louth 1-11: 2-16 Antrim

June 8, 2019  All-Ireland
Qualifiers round one

After losing to Tyrone in the Ulster Championship quarter-finals by 14 points, little was expected from the Saffrons on this June day in Louth. However, Matthew Fitzpatrick inspired his teammates to victory. He scored two goals to deliver a great win that was much celebrated by the fans who made the trip south. Ruairi Scott’s final score brought cheers from the fans. However, they could not follow up the victory with another win as they met Kildare in the next round. There was some debate about the game being played at Corrigan Park due to safety restrictions but it went ahead. The reason they didn’t build on the win was because they came up against a Kildare team who dominated the midfield.

2: Laois 1-16:2-15 Antrim

June 2015, All-Ireland
Qualifiers round one

They were eight points down at the start of the second half yet the Saffrons were able to battle back into the game against the odds. Laois were dominant in the first half as Donie Kingston’s goal gave the O’Moore men the advantage. Yet goals from Ryan Murray and then Dermot McAleese got the Saffrons’ back into the game and scores from Murray, Tony Scullion and Justin  Crozier finished the game off. It was a massive boost for the Saffrons. Yet they came up against Fermanagh in the next round. Fermanagh had earned promotion thanks to a well-organised defensive structure that Antrim just could not break down.

3: Fermanagh 3-13: 2-18 Antrim 

June, 2014, Ulster
Championship first round

Goals were the key to Antrim’s win over Fermanagh in Brewster Park in 2014. Their attack was well drilled and they hit 1-10 in the first half. Brian Neeson got the first major. Then Kevin Niblock got their second. Liam Bradley was the manager, having returned for a second term after their glorious run under his tenure the first time. Yet he was concerned at how Fermanagh were able to get back in the game twice. Kevin O’Boyle’s goal-line clearance kept the Saffrons in the game and they hung on for the win. Antrim met Donegal in the next round, who were on a mission to win back the Ulster title. Then Antrim lost to Limerick in the Qualifiers.

4: London 2-9:2-11 Antrim 

June, 2012, All-Ireland
Qualifiers round one

Antrim took the journey over to Ruislip. But the game didn’t start to plan as the Exiles went ahead by 2-5 to 1-5 in the first half. Paddy Cunningham was injured and then Martin Johnston came on to replace him. Aodhan Gallagher had a fine game as he got the first goal in the first half. London looked like they were going to hold on for the win until Kevin Niblock’s goal edged the Saffrons in front and Tomas McCann got the final score.

5: Antrim 0-11:0-10 Galway 

July 2012, All-Ireland
Qualifiers round two

This is the last championship win that Antrim have enjoyed at Casement Park since the venue was closed down in anticipation of the redevelopment. Antrim had defeated London in the previous match, but that win was slightly concerning as the Saffrons needed a late charge to get the result. Galway had led 0-5 to 0-4 at half time. Yet the McCanns, Tomas and Michael, combined in the second half to score five between them, and the winning score was kicked by Deaglan O’Hagan. Pádraic Joyce had scored the equaliser in the 70th  minute, but McCann and O’Hagan’s scores won the game for Antrim. Their next Qualifier outing was away to Tipperary in Thurles but they were beaten 0-10 to 0-8. Tipp’ had led 0-5 to 0-1, Antrim did battle back and could have won at the finish but Michael McCann missed a late goal chance.

6: Antrim 0-16: 1-7 Westmeath 

June 2011, All-Ireland
Qualifiers round one

Casement Park was the venue and Antrim welcomed Westmeath as the Saffrons attempted to bounce back from losing to Jim McGuinness’s inspired Donegal. Antrim did not have a good start to the game as they trailed early on, as James Dolan’s goal put the visitors in front. Yet one notable pattern from the game was that they had a great spread of scorers. Eight different players registered on the scoreboard. Best of all was Tomas McCann with 0-4. Gerard O’Boyle scored 0-3, and James Loughrey, Brendan Herron and Tony Scullion scored two each. The concern after the game was Michael McCann’s injury, and he said he would miss the next game.

7: Antrim 1-13: 2-9 Carloe 

July 2011, All-Ireland
Qualifiers round two

key moment in this game at Casement Park came midway through the second half when Mark Dougan grabbed their goal and Carlow had a man sent off. The Saffrons had earned a six-point lead in the first half, but Carlow cut that to one point before half time. Then things got worse for Liam Baker’s side as they conceded a goal early in the second half. Paddy Cunningham was sprung from the bench and he helped with three points as Antrim clung on for the win, and without the injured Michael McCann playing any part. In the next round they hosted Down at Casement Park, a team who had reached the All-Ireland final in the previous year. Down won by 3-13 to 0-10 with Martin Clarke scoring 1-4 for the Mourne county.

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