Antrim were full value for their first Qualifier victory in four seasons over disappointing Louth in the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda on Saturday night. Deep into the games second quarter Matthew Fitzpatrick swung the game for the Ulster side with two goal blitz which started on the 20th and finished on the 25th minute.
The game was going Louth’s way up until then and the hosts never recovered from the mental blow. They were six points ahead when Andy McDonnell found the net in what was Wayne Kierans sides best spell. Ryan Murray also shone on the night for Lenny Harbinsons side he scored six points in total and he opened both halves with a pair of braces. Such was the intent the Antrim side possessed on the night.
The humiliating defeat to Dublin and their season capitulating in front of them Louth lost two players to red cards down the stretch, Goalie Fergal Sheekey and Declan Byrne dismissed to compound a disappointing night for the Wee County.
Both counties can relate to their maligned home ground situations. Since the closure of Casement park Antrim have deemed themselves effectively homeless, while Louth faring only slightly better, after a decade long process, have decided the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda is not for the long term now await a new Stadium in Dundalk sometime in the future.
So with both counties in limbo, the search for somewhere to call home lingering it was Antrim who wanted the nomadic voyage through the Qualifiers much more and it showed in the second half. Louth could only register four scores in total while Antrim cruised to victory in the second half. Controlling the lead they composed themselves with excellently worked scores.
Defenders Niall Delargy and Patrick McCormick typified this patience by joining the attack late with perfectly timed runs to register scores. Regular Louth full back Emmet Carolan came on the field and found the target but a comeback was never on the cards for the hosts.
Colum Duffin and Patrick McBride revelled in the possession and created two points a piece for themselves as it was total football for the Saffrons in their dominance second thirty five minutes. As the tempo dipped and substitutes entered the fray the game became disjointed Ruairí Scott put his hand up for round 2 of the Qualifiers with a assured two point cameo when introduced.
Scorers for Louth: A McDonnell 1-1, R Burns (2f) and D Byrne 0-2 each , C McKeever, E Carolan, C Downey, T Durnin, J Clutterbuck and B Duffy 0-1 each
Scorers for Antrim: M Fitzpatrick 2-1, R Murray 0-6 (1fs), P McBride 0-3 (1f), R Scott and C Duffin 0-2 each, P McCormick and N Delargy 0-1 each.
LOUTH: F Sheekey; D Corcoran, F Donohoe, J Craven; A Williams, B Duffy (0-1), J Clutterbuck (0-1); T Durnin (0-1), J Califf; A McDonnell (1-1), D Byrne (0-2), C McKeever (0-1); C Downey (0-1) S Mulroy, R Burns (0-2,2f). Subs: E Duffy for McDonnell (h-t) C Early for Califf (48), R Holcroft for Downey (49), E Carolan (0-1) for Craven (56), C Grimes for Mulroy (58) C Lynch for J Clutterbuck (58).
ANTRIM: P Nugent; P McCormick (0-1), R Johnston, P Gallagher; P McBride (0-3, 1f), D Lynch, N Delargy (0-1); C Duffin (0-2), S Beatty; J McAuley, M Fitzpatrick (2-1), K Quinn; R Murray(0-6, 1f), M McCarry, E Walsh. Subs R McNulty for James McAuley (5), C Murray for McCarry (h-t), R Scott (0-2) for Beatty (49), F Burke for K Quinn (64), J Smith for C Duffin (68), P Branagan for N Delargy (72).
Referee: M McNally (Monaghan)