Gutsy Antrim hold out for League victory over Laois as late CJ McGourty free helps ensure win
Allianz Football League Division Three, round five: Antrim 1-10 Laois 0-11
HEART. Guts. Nerves. Nerve. Antrim innards were pounding and churning, on and off the pitch at Corrigan Park, but the hosts held on for a vital, visceral victory against 14-man Laois.
The Saffrons' joint-manager Frank Fitzsimons hailed "the guts" of his team as they held off a wind-assisted challenge from the midlanders, who might even have snatched victory in a nervy final few minutes.
Instead, CJ McGourty, who had snapped up the game's only goal in a frenetic finale to the first half, converted a free deep into added time and ensured a second win in this division for Antrim.
Even placed balls weren't easily converted due to the strong wind, which mostly blew towards the Whiterock Road end that Antrim attacked before the break and defended valiantly after it.
Fitzsimons joked that the wind wasn't just posing problems for the players: "It was playing havoc with my heart out there the last 10 minutes, I know that!"
In truth, there was much greater drama at the end of the first half. First, Laois lost half-forward Damian O'Connor to a straight red card, apparently for striking Conor Murray moments after both had been booked for a bout of on-the-ground wrestling.
Then, seconds after Matt Fitzpatrick had palmed the ball onto the bar, it was delivered back into the Laois square - and McGourty sent it into the net.
Antrim now head to the Athletic Grounds to take on in-form Ulster rivals Armagh, but at least they'll do so with their own confidence on the up, as Fitzsimons acknowledged:
"It was a very heartening win, it was very tough, Laois are a tough team. Our lads dug in very well at the end to see it out.
"All you can hope for is two points, we got them, and we're pleased in the changing room."