Football

Antrim’s promotion hopes dead after Westmeath defeat

Day of frustration at Corrigan Park for Andy McEntee’s side

Antrim v Westmeath
Antrim v Westmeath Antrim’s Colm McLarnon retains possession as Westmeath’s Ray Connellan tries to challenge Picture: Seamus Loughran (seamus loughran)

Allianz Football League Division Three, round five

Antrim 0-9 Westmeath 0-13

IT was a day of frustration for Antrim at Corrigan Park as their promotion hopes were extinguished by Westmeath.

They will have plenty of regrets with nine wides over the piece and three big goal chances that came and went with Westmeath just more economical with their opportunities to maintain their 100 per cent record.

Westmeath were able to punish the errors and open a bit of a gap in the second period that they would maintain and this win leaves them well placed in the promotion hunt, while Antrim with three straight defeats are now looking over their shoulder.

“I can look at a lot of factors but the truth of the matter is we had the winning of the game ourselves and didn’t take it,” said a disappointed Antrim manager, Andy McEntee.

“We missed a number of frees and I counted five goal chances, so it’s hard to take.

“There were a lot of things we did do well. We worked really hard and were honest, which is all you can ask for, but just need to be more clinical in front of goal and needed the rub of the green I don’t think we got.”

It was a cagey opening five minutes before Eunan Walsh started a superb Antrim move out from the back and continued his run to get on the end of it, only to be denied by Westmeath goalkeeper Jason Daly who saved out for a 45.

Michael Byrne missed the kick but redeemed himself with a great save from Jonathan Lynam at the other end.

Ronan Boyle finally broke the deadlock with a point for the hosts after eight minutes but Senan Baker tied it up from a free.

The visitors seemed to take a bit of a grip with two quick scores, but a Dominic McEnhill brace including a beauty from play tied it up once again.

The Saffrons would create another goal chance but Marc Jordan had his effort stopped on the line by David Lynch.

Kavan Keenan edged the hosts ahead from a tight angle but Westmeath get back on terms immediately and they would take a 0-5 to 0-4 lead into the break after Danny McCartan weaved his way into space to score as Antrim were left to rue half-a-dozen first-half wides.

Westmeath enjoyed plenty of the ball straight after the break with the extended move finished by Conor Dillon and Ryan O’Toole added another. But Antrim remained in the hunt with Michael Byrne and Dermott McAleese kicking scores before Danny and Sam McCartan popped up at the other end.

The margin was four on 58 minutes when Antrim were again denied as a quick free released Marc Jordan who played in McEnhill and the corner-forward seemed to do everything right as he steadied but saw his shot crash off the bar.

He and Declan Lynch would kick points, but Westmeath would find the response through Andy McCormack and Kieran Martin, with the insurance score coming from Lynam.

“Coming up to Belfast after three weeks in a row was always going to be tough and it was,” said Westmeath manager Dessie Dolan.

“We found it difficult, but to win a tight and tough match is important to us as we’ve made good progress in that respect.

“There are times we would have lost games like that away from home, so it was good to get that win.”

Antrim M Byrne (0-1f); J Morgan, E Walsh, K Keenan (0-1); D Lynch (0-1), J Finnegan, D McAleese (0-1); C McLarnon, C Hand (0-1f); R Boyle (0-1), P McBride, R McCann (Creggan); M Jordan, P Shivers, D McEnhill (0-3, 2f)

Subs N Burns for P Shivers (52), L McLarnon for D McEnhill (70+1).

Westmeath J Daly; K Maguire, C Drumm, J Lynam (0-2); D Scahilll, R Wallace (0-1), N Harte; R Connellan, A McCormack (0-1); D Lynch (0-1), R O’Toole (0-1), S McCartan (0-1); S Baker (0-2f), C Dillon (0-1), D McCartan (0-2, 1f)

Subs K Martin (0-1) for S Baker (49), M Whittaker for R Wallace (55), J Dolan for N Harte (55), E Mulvihill for C Drumm (58), S Smith for D McCartan (68)

Referee Fintan Pierce (Offaly)