Antrim pull off stunning comeback to knock out Laois
Frank Fitzsimons pulled off the shock of the weekend as Antrim toppled Laois in dramatic circumstances in this SFC Qualifier at O’Moore Park.
Antrim 2-15 Laois 1-16
Eight points in arrears early in the second half, the visitors fired an unanswered 1-3 in the closing eight minutes, including a goal from substitute Dermott McAleese, to ensure a place in Monday’s Round 2 qualifier draw.
Laois led by 1-9 to 0-5 at half-time, with Paul Kingston netting their goal, and worked hard to hang onto a four-point lead with 15 minutes remaining, after Ryan Murray netted for Antrim.
However, the visitors worked hard for an impressive win, with McAleese netting a 68th minute goal, while Laois midfielder Brendan Quigley saw red in injury-time.
Antrim boss Fitzsimons had welded the axe before throw-in, with Connor Burke, and McGourty brothers Conor and Kieran benched, after playing for their club St Galls in an Antrim Senior Hurling league match on Friday night.
This looked to have a huge negative effect on the visitors in the opening half.
Antrim registered seven wides in the opening 20 minutes, with Laois holding a 1-7 to 0-1 advantage after 24 minutes, with Paul Kingston netting their goal, after an Evan O’Carroll delivery.
Antrim custodian Chris Kerr and his Laois counterpart Graham Brody saw plenty of action on the restart, with both making fine saves.
The Saffrons grew in confidence scoring 1-4 unanswered between the 42nd and 46th minutes to cut the gap to the minimum, including a Ryan Murray goal.
The sides traded scores, with Laois holding a 1-16 to 1-12 lead after 60 minutes, following Donal Kingston’s seventh points.
But Antrim fired 1-3 without reply in the closing eight minutes, including McAleese’s goal, with Ryan Murray, Tony Scullion and Justin Crozier also involved, before the Roger Casements clubman fired past Brody.
Laois’s woes were heightened late on by Quigley’s dismissal, as the 'Green Glens of Antrim' rang around O’Moore Park, at the full-time whistle.
ANTRIM: C Kerr (0-01, 1f); N Delargy, J Crozier, D Lynch; P McAleer, J Laverty, T Scullion; O Gallagher (0-01), B Hasson (0-01); M Sweeney, C Murray (0-01), M Armstrong; P McBride (0-02), R Murray (1-04), M Pollock (0-05, 4f). Subs: D McAleese (1-00) for McAleer (29); J Dowling for Armstrong (HT); R McGrady for Gallagher (64).
LAOIS: G Brody; D O’Connor, M Timmons, S Attride; D Strong (0-02), G Hanrahan, C Begley; B Quigley, J O’Loughlin (0-01); N Donoher (0-01), C Boyle, E O’Carroll (0-01); R Munnelly (0-04, 2f), D Kingston (0-07, 1f), P Kingston (1-00). Subs: R Kehoe for Attride (48); B Sheehan for O’Carroll (62); C Meredith for Munnelly (63); J Finn for P Kingston (68).
REFEREE: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary)
By Cóilín Duffy