Antrim 2-12 Queens University 1-14 at Casement Park
Antrim’s “Power N.I” McKenna Cup campaign came to an end with a one point win over Queen’s University on a bitterly cold night at Casement Park but for Manager Liam Bradley there were some hopeful signs for the future with several of the young players on duty doing more than enough to retain their places for the Allianz National League opener against Sligo on Saturday 4th February.
In their three McKenna Cup games Bradley used some 25 players with a view to not only the League but also the Ulster Championships later in the year. Last night’s result had little significance for the Glensmen (other than to try out new players ) since they had already lost their earlier games against Fermanagh and Tyrone. Nonetheless the faithful Antrim followers were treated to some fine football, a high scoring encounter, excellent goalkeeping and in the final analysis a home win albeit by the narrowest of margins.
Thirteen seconds was all that Paddy Cunningham needed to put the home side in the lead with the full forward line of Tomas McCann, Cunningham and Brian Neeson to the fore. With but 12 minutes on the clock Antrim had led 0-5 to 0-3.
By half time, though Queen’s with Antrim’s Sean Burke doing sterling work in midfield, had drawn level half time the sides were level at 10 points each, at which point Antrim had scored their ten entirely from play.
A great goal from James Loughrey helped Antrim to a three point lead to open a three point lead. There was never more than 3 points between the sides at that stage in it – Donal O’Hare marched through an ‘invisible’ Antrim defence at ease to score a Queens goal – O’Hare was Queen’s star man accounting for some 1-8 of their tally, being particularly accurate from frees.
Another free from Cunningham reduced the lead to but a single point before Tomas McCann set up ‘Man of the Match’ Brian Neeson for the all decisive goal . In the final minutes, Queen’s goalkeeper Matthew Jackson made a fine save from Loughrey thus depriving the Glensman a second goal.
With several promising newcomers in their midst Antrim will have gained much valuable experience from this encounter whilst Queen’s too will not have been disappointed.