By Paul Keane
Louth 3-12 Antrim 1-14
Powerful full-forward Conor Grimes struck a decisive 71st minute goal at Croke Park as Louth came from behind to secure a dramatic Allianz football league Division 4 title success.
The Wee County trailed by five points with less than half an hour to go but rallied superbly to claim a rare piece of silverware.
Jim McEneaney was named Man of the Match and his 59th minute solo goal was vital as it hauled Louth back and gave them the belief they could reel in the Saffrons.
The sides - who drew in the final round of the Division 4 group campaign - were level twice in the run in and six times overall before Grimes played a neat one-two along the right end line and struck Louth's third goal.
Derek Maguire, who top scored for Louth with 1-2, added an insurance point at the death as the Leinster outfit signed off on the league in style.
Colin Kelly's side will return to action on May 14 when they face Carlow in the first round of the Leinster championship with the winners taking on Meath.
It looked as if they may have blown their chance of a national title here though as they blasted 14 wides in total and eight of those in the second-half when the game was in the melting pot.
Antrim held a 1-9 to 1-5 half-time lead and had their own star performer in Tomas McCann who added 0-8 on the afternoon to the 2-26 he'd previous tallied in the group stage.
Back to back McCann points early in the second-half opened up that five-point lead for the Saffrons who led 1-11 to 1-6 at that stage.
But Declan Byrne's third point of the game for Louth and two from free-taker James Califf narrowed the margin before McEneaney waltzed through for a brilliant solo goal.
Louth would move two clear themselves with 10 minutes to go though Antrim battled bravely throughout and it looked as if extra-time might be required as the sides were deadlocked entering injury-time.
But Grimes and substitute Ruairi Moore combined in thrilling fashion to forge that goal which finally killed off the Ulster outfit.
Scorers for Louth: D Maguire 1-2, J McEneaney 1-1 (0-1 s/l), R Burns 0-4 (0-3f), C Grimes 1-0, D Byrne 0-3, J Califf 0-2 (0-2f).
Scorers for Antrim: T McCann 0-8 (0-6f), M Fitzpatrick 1-1, C Murray 0-2, B Neeson (0-1f), R Johnson and P McBride 0-1 each.
Louth: C Lynch; P Rath, P Reilly, K Toner; D Maguire, D McMahon, E Lafferty; J Stewart, J Califf; D Byrne, J McEneaney, T Durnin; C McKeever, C Grimes, R Burns.
Subs: J Bingham for Toner 13, A Williams for Bingham 35+1 BC, R Moore for McMahon 44, G McSorley for Burns 75.
Antrim: C Kerr; N Delargy, C Burke, R Johnson; K O'Boyle, M Johnson, J Laverty; N McKeever, M McCann; C Murray, K Niblock, J Carron; B Neeson, M Fitzpatrick, T McCann.
Subs: R Murray for Neeson 48, P McBride 0-1 for Carron 53, D McAleese for Fitzpatrick 58, M Sweeney for Laverty 63, J Crozier for Burke 67.
Referee: J Henry (Mayo).