Allianz Football League
Antrim 0-11, Sligo 1-7
SLIGO’S promotion bid was knocked off course at Belfast’s Corrigan Park on Sunday when Niall Carew’s side sloppily lost by a point to Antrim, 0-11 to 1-7.
In a game spoiled by a crossfield breeze and tricky underfoot conditions, missed chances cost stuttering Sligo as a dogged Antrim ended the Connacht county’s unbeaten start to their Division Three campaign.
After a home draw with Armagh and an away defeat of Tipperary, Sligo were expected to push on against opponents who had lost their opening two Allianz Football League third tier games.
Niall Murphy’s well-taken 17th minute goal put Sligo 1-2 to 0-3 ahead. A two-point interval lead for the visitors, 1-5 to 0-6, despite having not dominated the opening period, suggested that they were poised to improve in the second period.
But Sligo, who welcomed back experienced defender Charlie Harrison, a second-half substitute, only pointed twice in the second-half as Antrim, thanks to eight points from free-taker CJ McGourty, just about got over the line for their first positive result of the season.
Match-winner McGourty landed the winning score, a pointed free, in the 69th minute but there was still further drama as Sligo wasted two chances to draw level and the winners were reduced to 14 players when Ryan Murray was shown a black card to go with his earlier yellow.
Antrim were denied goals on three occasions by Sligo net-minder Aidan Devaney – Stephen Beatty and Conor Small saw their first-half attempts kept out by the custodian and, in the second-half, CJ McGourty’s goalbound flick was pushed over for a point by the alert Devaney.
Sligo, now placed fourth in the standings behind leaders Louth, Tipperary and Armagh, welcome Laois to Markievicz Park this Sunday (2.30pm start). A win is necessary in order for Sligo to cement their Division Three status.
Antrim: Chris Kerr (c), Conor Hamill, Patrick Gallagher, Paddy McAleer, Paddy McBride (0-1), Ruairi McCann, Peter Healy, Jack Dowling, Stephen Beatty, Conor Murray (0-1), Ryan Murray (0-1), Declan Lynch, CJ McGourty (0-8, 6f, 1 ’45’), Conor Small, Matthew Fitzpatrick
Subs used: Sean Donnelly for Ruairi McCann, 29; Seamus McGarry for Conor Small, 64; Brendan Bradley for Paddy McBride, 70+2 (black card)
Sligo: Aidan Devaney, Ross Donovan, Kevin McDonnell, Noel Gaughan, Eoin McHugh, Neil Ewing, Brendan Egan, Patrick O’Connor, Adrian McIntyre, Criostóit Davey, Mark Breheny (0-2, 1f), John Kelly, Kyle Cawley (0-1), Adrian Marren (0-3, 2f), Niall Murphy (1-1, 1f)
Subs used: Stephen Gilmartin for Patrick O’Connor, 53; Charlie Harrison for Criostóir Davey, 53; Stephen Coen for Kyle Cawley, 59
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)