Antrim hang on in Wexford to record second Tailteann Cup win

The Saffrons will now meet Sligo, with the winner guaranteed a home quarter-final

Antrim v tipperary at corrigan park in west Belfast
Andy McEntee was happy with Antrim's win but disappointed with missed goal chances. Picture: Mal McCann

Tailteann Cup Group 2, round two

Wexford 0-17 Antrim 1-15

IT may have arrived as early as the sixth minute but Ruairi McCann’s goal set the pattern for the remainder of the game as Antrim were never subsequently headed but eventually had to survive a torrid closing five minutes to emerge with a single-point victory at Chadwicks Wexford Park.

The visitors had fallen two points adrift inside the opening five minutes as Darragh Lyons and Paraic Hughes pointed the home side in front, having enjoyed an impressive opening to the game through some quality attacking play.

But the game’s only goal arrived somewhat against the run of play. Midfielder Patrick McAleer won possession, drifted a huge ball towards tall full-forward Ruairi McCann, who outfielded Gavin Sheehan and turned inside to crash a rising shot beyond keeper William Foley, making his senior debut..

Despite the victory, Antrim manager Andy McEntee seemed quite frustrated on the sideline, particularly with the missing of two gilt-edged goal chances, one in each half. A successful execution on either occasion would have put the game beyond the home side.

‘‘Ruairi (McCann) stepped up with what was to prove a crucial score. It was end-to-end football but I would be disappointed with missing two clear-cut goal chances, one in each half.

‘‘Had we taken the first-half opportunity I felt we could push on, but in the end we had to defend superbly to emerge with a victory.’'

Through the opening 35 minutes Wexford never managed to cancel out McCann’s goal as they trailed by four points at the interval.

While they showed improvement on the resumption, it was the ability of the Antrim side to kick points from distance that helped them stave off the home side’s challenge.

The first of Antrim’s two missed goal chances arrived minutes before the break. Antrim keeper Michael Byrne intercepted a poor Wexford kick-out and put Conor Hand inside the defence but he blazed wide of an open goal.

Antrim were presented with a further chance of sealing the result five minutes from the end. Corner-forward Marc Jordan, coming on the end of a splendid move, was clear in the centre but kept his shot too close to Foley, who managed to knock the ball away to safety.

After McCann’s goal, Antrim were boosted by fine points from Declan Lynch, Niall Burns and Dermot McAleese, with Sean Nolan points keeping the homes ide in contention. But with Ryan McQuillan kicking over fine points it was Antrim who led 1-8 to 0-7 at the interval.

Wexford had an early second-half point from Sean Nolan, but it was still Antrim who led 1-10 to 0-12 after 48 minutes.

Antrim managed to hold off the Wexford challenge and points from outstanding midfielder McAleer, keeper Michael Byrne from a 45 and Ryan McQuillan saw them restore their four-point advantage, 1-13 to 0-12, after 55 minutes.

While the sides went on to exchange further points, it was Antrim who had to defend desperately in additional time as Wexford added pointed frees through Ben Brosnan and Mark Rossiter, with what was the final score of the game.

Wexford W Foley; E Porter, G Sheehan, D Lyons (0-2); D Furlong, P Hughes (0-2), G Malone; L Coleman, N Hughes (0-1); K O’Grady (0-2), E Nolan, M Rossiter (0-2,1 free); C Carty, S Nolan (0-6, 4f), L O’Connor

Subs Higgins (0-1) for Carty (ht); C Kinsella for Nolan (44), G Staples for Lyons (60); B Brosnan (0-1 free) for O’Grady (67); J Bealin for S Nolan (68).

Yellow card S Nolan.

Antrim M Byrne (0-1, 45); D Lynch (0-1), E Walsh, K Keenan; N Burns (0-1),J Flanagan (0-1), D McAleese (0-1); P McAleer (0-3), C Hynds (0-1); C Hand, P McBride, R McCann (Creagan); R McQuillan (0-6, 0-3 frres), R McCann (Naomh Mhuire) (1-0), M Jordan

Subs D McEnhill for R McCann (Cregan) (50); J McDonnell Keenan (66); C McLarnan (73).

Black card Conor Hand.

Yellow cards C Hynds, R McQuillan

Referee D Murnane (Cork)