Tigerish Saffrons frustrate Wexford to collect points

Antrim, without their Loughgiel players, pulled off an exciting and thoroughly deserved victory over Wexford at Casement Park yesterday.

Great defence, with Chris O’Connell splendid between the posts, Cormac Donnelly fielding superbly at full-back and Neal McAuley and Neil McManus driving forward from the half-back line, meant Wexford had to work extremely hard for scores.

Up front, the home side had an ace marksman in Shane McNaughton with PJ O’Connell also lively in the corner. And once midfield got to grips with the Wexford three-man midfield Karl Stewart shone.

This was a tigerish display by the Saffrons, who frustrated the Slaneysiders.

The scores were level twice in the opening five minutes before Wexford slipped into gear with fast off-the-ball running. Midfielder Eoin Quigley fired home a goal on seven minutes and by the 12th minute they were 1-4 to 0-2 ahead.

However, when sharpshooter Shane McNaughton ran in a goal on 19 minutes Antrim were back. Kevin Sheeran went clear for another home goal on 20 minutes and 14 minutes later Stewart rocketed in number three to leave Antrim 3-9 to 1-7 up at the break.

Following Sheeran’s goal, Wexford were awarded a penalty but O’Connell brought off a marvellous save.

Wexford sent in three replacements for the second half and they rifled over three unanswered points to close the gap to four by the 53rd minute.

But they failed to grab a couple of golden goal opportunities and those let-offs allowed Antrim breathing space. They allowed the losers only three points in the closing 18 minutes while rifling over seven of their own.

“I’ll leave it to the Loughgiel players to come back whenever they feel they are ready,” said Antrim manager Jerry Wallace.

“They are going through a tiring campaign and I don’t want them coming back tired to represent their county. I want them fresh when they come back.”

Scorers for Antrim: S McNaughton 1-7 (6fs), K Stewart 1-3, K Sheerin 1-0, PJ O’Connell 0-3, N McManus (2fs), M Herron 0-2 each, N McAuley 0-1.

Scorers for Wexford: E Quigley 2-0, T O’Leary, G Sinnott, G Moore (2fs), R Jacobs, R Kehoe, J Berry (2fs), P Morris (1f) 0-2 each, S Murphy, PJ Nolan 0-1 each.

ANTRIM: C O’Connell; A Graffin, C Donnelly, K McGourty; N McAuley, N McManus, S McCrory; K Stewart, B McFall; S McLaughlin, M Herron, C McFall; S McNaughton, K Sheerin, PJ O’Connell.

Subs: KB McShane for Sheerin (52).

WEXFORD: E Martin; B Kenny, M O’Hanlon, B Kehoe; D Stamp, K Rossiter, C Kenny; E Quigley, J Leacy; R Kehoe, D O’Keefe, PJ Nolan, T O’Leary, G Sinnott, G Moore.

Subs: P Morris for R Kehoe (ht), J Berry for Leacy (ht), R Jacobs for Moore (ht), S Murphy for O’Leary (54), J Guiney for O’Keefe (61).

Referee: E Hasson (Derry).

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