Allianz NFL Division Three
Antrim 1-7 Cavan 2-12
By Michael McMullan
ANTRIM bounced back from their 31-point hammering against Westmeath to end Cavan’s 100 per cent record at Corrigan Park on Saturday afternoon.
Andy McEntee’s side stretched their six-point interval lead to 10 points before the visitors staged a strong comeback with goals from Paddy Lynch and substitute Conor Madden.
Playing on his home pitch, Paddy McBride hit four points before coming back on the pitch to add a fifth in a Man of the Match performance.
Cavan twice reduced the gap to two points, but the home side hoovered up five successive kick-outs in a frantic finale to notch victory and turn the tables on their Westmeath hammering.
“It didn’t break us, it made us,” McBride said of their chastening defeat. “There was so much talk of Antrim this and Antrim that and it was disappointing.
“You see the talent that we have here and even the lads who were injured and couldn’t play and the lads stepped up.
“Every single fella in this panel has played this year and every fella has stood up.
“The performances we have put in this year…we deserve more than just staying in this league but we don’t deserve to go down and we finally proved it.”
It was Antrim who raced out of the blocks and found the net early on when Eoghan McCabe’s lofted ball was fielded by Aghagallon’s Ruairi McCann who tucked to the net for a 1-1 to 0-1 lead after five minutes.
Midway through the half, Cavan had a great chance to level the game with a goal, but Jack McKenna’s palmed effort went the wrong side of the crossbar for a point and Antrim led 1-3 to 0-4.
It was the last Breffni score for 24 minutes as Antrim – who led 1-6 to 0-4 at the break – went 10 points clear and full value for it given their application and accuracy in front of goal.
Cavan staged a comeback with points from McKiernan frees before Conor Madden hammered to the net to put four points between the sides before Conor Smith fisted over.
McCabe won a vital kick-out to help Antrim break the momentum and they looked to have pushed clear with their ability to secure possession in the middle third.
Paddy Lynch did manage a second Cavan goal, but it was Antrim who finished the job with McBride’s fifth point.
“I have to credit the lads, they kept plugging away and got it back to a point,” Mickey Graham said after the game.
“There was one decision near the end when we turned the ball over and the referee gave a free in for some reason.
“We don’t know where he got that from. We have no complaints; it was lost long before that one.”
Antrim: Michael Byrne; Eoghan McCabe, Declan Lynch, James McAuley; Patrick McCormick (0-1), Joseph Finnegan, Marc Jordan (0-1); Colm McLarnon; Jack Dowling; Patrick Finnegan, Ruairi McCann (Creggan) (0-1f), Paddy McBride (0-5); Dominic McEnhill (0-2), Ruairi McCann (Aghagallon) (1-0), Odhran Eastwood (0-6, 2f)
Subs: Peter Healy for Patrick Finnegan (51), S McGarry (0-1) for P McBride (54), Conor Stewart for J Dowling (64), Barry McCormick for J Finnegan (67), Paddy McBride for D McEnhill (68)
Cavan: Raymond Galligan (0-2 ’45); Killian Brady, Padraig Faulkner, Conor Moynagh; Ciarán Brady, Cian Reilly, Tiernan Madden; Jack McKenna (0-1), Killian Clarke; Gerard Smith, Cian Madden (0-3), Jonathan McCabe; Brandon Boylan, Paddy Lynch (1-1, 1f), Ryan O’Neill
Subs: Gearóid McKiernan (0-2f) for B Boylan (HT), James Smith for K Brady (HT), David Brady for J McKenna (45), Conor Madden (1-2) for R O’Neill (45), Conor Smith (0-1) for G Smith (64)
Referee: Kieran Eannetta (Tyrone)