Louth progress despite goalkeeper's verbal tirade at umpire

Louth 1-17 Antrim 1-11

Louth progress despite goalkeeper's verbal tirade at umpire

Louth 1-17 Antrim 1-11

Louth ended this All-Ireland SFC first round qualifier with 14 men, following goalkeeper Neil Gallagher's straight red card in the final minute, but it did not put them off as they ended Antrim's Championship hopes in Drogheda.

Gallagher saw red for verbally abusing an umpire and the incident will be one of the major talking points from a game that Aidan O'Rourke's charges should have won by a greater margin.

Antrim had to haul in Louth on a number of occasions as they threatened to break away on the scoreboard, and the Saffrons will emerge with credit for how they battled back in both halves.

Louth, who took the lead through a Colm Judge point, shot 1-4 to 0-1 ahead when Ciaran Byrne slipped the ball under goalkeeper Chris Kerr and into the net for a goal on the quarter hour mark.

However, the shooting left a lot to be desired at times with the sides hit 15 wides between them in an opening half that was pockmarked by handling errors and poor decision-making.

Gallagher came to Louth's rescue when he thwarted Sean Kelly, however Antrim halved the deficit to three points with a run of scores from free-taker Paddy Cunningham who finished with 0-6 in all.

Conor Murray and Michael Herron were also on target for Frank Dawson's charges, who ventured south hoping to banish memories of their disappointing Ulster Championship exit at the hands of Monaghan.

But Shane Lennon converted an injury-time free from close range to give the Wee County side a 1-7 to 0-6 interval lead and they had Antrim for the taking when they strung through five of the next six points, early in the second half.

Lennon, Brian White and substitutes Ronan Carroll and Ray Finnegan, with the latter two pressing their claims for a start next time out, all split the posts to leave Antrim almost out for the count.

Back came the Glensmen though with Michael Pollock finding the net in the 49th minute and Cunningham showing his accuracy again from placed balls, making it three-point game yet again.

But with Lennon raising five white flags and Byrne shooting 1-2, Louth were always at least three points to the good. They gave themselves enough of a cushion to see out a deserved victory with their closing points coming from Carroll, Lennon, Conor Rafferty and Paddy Keenan.

LOUTH: N Gallagher; P Rath, D Finnegan, J Bingham; C McGuinness, D Crilly, A Reid; P Keenan (0-1), B Donnelly; C Rafferty (0-2), B White (0-2, 0-1f), C Judge (0-1); D Maguire (0-1), S Lennon (0-5, 0-1f), C Byrne (1-2).

Subs used: R Finnegan (0-1) for McGuinness (16 mins), R Carroll (0-2) for Donnelly (30), D Clarke for Byrne (50), P Smith for Rafferty (67), J Flanagan for Gallagher (69).

ANTRIM: C Kerr; K O'Boyle (0-1), P Doherty, R Johnson; A Healey, S Kelly, J Carron; S McVeigh, J Crozier; C Murray (0-1), M Sweeney, M Herron (0-1); M Pollock (1-1), B Herron (0-1), P Cunningham (0-6, 0-4f).

Subs used: P McBride for A Healey (53 mins), R Murray for McVeigh (59), D McAleese for M Herron (62), N Delargy for B Herron (66).

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)

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