Sport

On This Day: Apr 20 1997: Greg Blaney stands out in Down v Antrim clash: Teenager Kevin Madden stars for Saffrons

Down legend Greg Blaney.

A POINT one minute from time by substitute Peter McCann gave Antrim a deserved draw with an understrength Down side in an exciting and high-scoring football challenge at sun-drenched Casement Park.

Both counties fielded experimental teams and those on view certainly must have pleased their respective managers.

Down received a jolt when it was learned that star midfielder Gregory McCartan will be out for several weeks after injuring an ankle in training and is currently on crutches.

Midway through the first half Aidan Farrell limped out with a thigh strain to join an increasing list of injured players.

The importance of Greg Blaney to Down was fully emphasised yesterday.

Having his first full county game since last year’s Ulster final he gave an exhibition of controlled play, intelligent passing using the open spaces, seeking openings and although he did not score he had a hand in most of the Down scores.

Antrim had their own forward star. Teenager Kevin Madden rivalled Blaney for intelligent play and finishing.

Antrim; S McGreevy, P McCabe, M Mulholland, L McCurdy, G McCarron, E McAtamney, J Kelly, C McCabe, M McGuigan, F Wilson (0-3), D Armstrong (0-1), K Madden (2-4), P Darby (0-3), F Fitzsimons, T Cairns (0-1).

Subs: P McCann (0-1) for G McCarron; P McShane for P McCabe.

Down: M McVeigh, D Flynn, L Howlett, C Murray (0-1), S Poland (0-2), C P McCartan, G McFerron, J Austin (0-1), S Ward, J Treanor (0-4), G Blaney, P Sloan, A McGivern (0-4), A Farrell (0-1), G Deegan (1-3).

Sub: T McMahon for A Farrell.

Referee: G McClorey (Antrim).

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DESPITE the disruption of a bomb scare, Antrim’s seminar on the future of football and hurling in the passed off successfully.

The inconvenience was only minor thanks to fine contingency plans by the organisers, who relocated to the All Saints clubrooms for about an hour before returning to the original venue in the Adair Arms Hotel, Ballymena.

The seminar honed in on the parochial nature of Antrim’s organisation and the absolute necessity for a structured approach to underage coaching.

Bundoran hotelier and former Donegal manager Brian McEniff was blunt in his delivery emphasising the need for the county to come together.

“Players must realise they are all Antrim men and must wear the county jersey with pride,” he said.

He went on to say that Antrim should now be laying the foundation for success seven to 10 years down the road.

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ANTRIM camogs qualified for the Ulster minor league final with a four-point victory over Derry in an exciting game at Castledawson yesterday.

The teams were level with 15 minutes to play but goals from Colette Downey in the 23rd and 29th minutes clinched victory for the visitors, despite a late goal from Shauna McGuigan.

Antrim won basically because their defence was sound throughout while Derry leaked some poor scores.

Both Mary O’Kane and Jane McNicholl finished with three goals each but the result has little bearing on the final table as Antrim and Tyrone had already qualified for the quarter-finals.

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