Goal blitz sees Antrim beat Queen's in McKenna Cup
Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section A: Antrim 3-11 QUB 1-11
ANTRIM secured their first points of the 2016 Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup with a six-point win over Queen’s University at the Dub on Wednesday.
Wind-assisted Queen's had the better of the opening half. The sides shared the opening four scores, with Martin Clarke getting the hosts off the mark after two minutes from a free. Colm Fleming cancelled out the lead, also from a dead ball, before putting Antrim ahead on 11 minutes with his second conversion.
Gerard McGovern restored parity before Antrim opened up a two-point gap through Conor Murray and Kevin Niblock. A second Clarke free cut the gap before Ryan Murray, brother of Conor, split the posts with the pick of the first-half scores.
Fleming and Clarke swapped frees once more to level the sides for the fourth time before Queen's put some daylight between the sides as the break approached. Michael Monan added his name to the scoresheet on 26 minutes, while McGovern got his second point of the day. The Burren star had a sniff of goal when favourite to collect Niall Delargy’s ball across the square, but a vital intervention from Seán McVeigh, operating at full-back, ensured it was another white flag for James McCartan’s side.
Queen’s had a gilt-edged goal chance moments later when it looked easier for Ruairí Corrigan to score, but the Kinawley man saw his side-footed effort slide past the post. McGovern then had a major firmly in his sights, but a superb save from Ronan Hanna saw the ball go over the bar for an 0-8 to 0-5 half-time lead for Queen's.
Substitute Neeson’s first goal, four minutes after the restart, brought Antrim to within a point. A driving run at the Queen's defence from Niblock created the space for Neeson, who accepted the offload and fired to the roof of the QUB net.
The Antrim celebrations had barely finished when Hanna was picking the ball out of the Saffron net. McGovern was the man again, although it was a fortuitous effort that looped over the keeper and into the Antrim net off the underside of the crossbar.
Antrim recovered well and, when Cargin colleagues Kevin O’Boyle and Michael McCann combined on 51 minutes, the latter coolly picked his spot and fired past Denney between the QUB posts. Antrim were now bossing proceedings and, with Clarke black-carded in the 44th minute, Queens lacked inspiration up front.
Half-time at the Dub: Antrim 0-5 Queen's 0-8, Queen's finish strongly to carry a three-point lead into second-half pic.twitter.com/mYdLHSvAQ5— Irish News Sport (@irishnewssport) January 6, 2016
Ryan Murray provided another superb point on 63 minutes to close the gap to four points, 2-11 to 1-10, and another Antrim man Brendan Bradley converted a free in injury-time. Neeson’s second major was another great effort, chipping the ball over Denney for a 3-11 to 1-11 score.
There was some late drama when Conor Murray was red-carded for an off-the-ball incident with his fellow county man Dermott McAleese.
Antrim compete their Section A group games with a trip to Healy Park to take on Tyrone, while Queen's travel to Owenbeg to face Derry. Both games are on Wednesday, January 13. Derry host Tyrone in their second round clash on Sunday at Owenbeg.
Exclusive video: what a goal from Brian Neeson
Antrim: R Hanna; K O’Boyle, P Gallagher, J McGreevy; M Hynes, J Crozier (0-1), C Fleming (0-4f); J Carron, S McVeigh; C Murray (0-1), K Niblock (0-2), T McCann (0-1f);M McCann (1-0), S Burke, P Kelly; Subs: B Neeson (2-1) for S Burke (34), D Nugent (0-1) for J Carron (52), M Armstrong for C Fleming (57), J Dowling for P Kelly (67)
QUB: J Denney;G McCabe, C Cullen, B Burns; N Delargy, S Heffron, M Monan (0-1); B Rodgers, A Doherty; R Murray (0-2), M Clarke (0-4f), D McAleese; R Corrigan, G McGovern (1-3), C Martin; Subs: C Hamill for M Clarke (44), (black card), H Brown for C Martin (55), B Bradley (0-1f) for M Monan (57), C Lavelle for C Cullen (60)
Referee: B Rice (Down)
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