ARMAGH 1 – 0 ANTRIM
Antrim travelled to Ardmore to play Armagh on Saturday for their next league match. Antrim who had scored twenty two goals and had conceded only three were in second place in the league were the strong favourites to win this game. Although missing key defender Alan Mullan for this match, play maker and Coach Johnny McMeekin decided not to start on the pitch but to observe from the bench. But without the missing Mullan and the input from McMeekin the Antrim team were surprisingly hesitant on taking the early initiative against the homesters. This allowed Armagh the time and space to break down the few Antrim attacks and slowly overcome the fear they might have had of the visitor’s strong attacking abilities. So the first quarter could be summed up as Antrim probably pressing more with slightly more possession but without any real penetration. The second quarter saw things a little more stretched with Antrim creating most of the chances but the Armagh goalkeeper Timmy Foster made save after save to keep his team in the game. Dean Wilson and Jason Roe were the leading Antrim attackers along with Chris Wilson, Ryan McCrea and Alex McBride but a lot of their efforts broke down when that final pass was blocked or the goalkeeper somehow got in the way. Encouraged by Antrim’s poor performance several of the young Armagh defenders were playing out of their skins to put in multiple tackles to deny Antrim any sniff of a goal. McMeekin came on for the second half to try and turn things around and the third quarter saw more pressure from Antrim but a combination of passion and great tackling was frustrating them time after time. Armagh’s Lee Neville was making a nuisance of himself at the top of the pitch and as a couple of Antrim defenders hesitated waiting for the umpire to blow for what was an obvious infringement he continued to play, managed to steal the ball and slip it past the keeper into the net for the 1-0 lead. This naturally provoked a backlash from Antrim and again Armagh made some great tackles with goalkeeper Foster mopping up numerous short corner attempts and before the whistle ended the quarter Antrim’s claim for a penalty stroke after the ball hit a defenders foot on the goal line was ignored by the umpire. The last quarter was pretty much a siege on Armagh’s back line as they desperately held on to their one goal lead. Armagh did break on a limited number of occasions and unfortunately in their rising panic an Antrim player was sin binned for dissent in the 68th minute which all but secured the unexpected victory for Armagh. Again in line with the rest of the match goalkeeper Foster kept up his outstanding performance to clear three more Antrim penalty corners attempts before the final whistle to give his team the shock 1-0 victory. This week Antrim are at home to near neighbour Ballymena in their next league match with a 1pm start.
Antrim Squad :- A Heatley, N Black, S Clyde, J McMeekin, C Murray, D Wilson, J Roe, J Kirkpatrick, A McBride, R McCrea, C Wilson and S Gammon.
Antrim Seconds travelled to Hillsborough to play league leaders Lisnagarvey Fifths on Saturday. It quickly became clear that the home team deserved the title of league leaders when they overcame this experience Antrim team as the game progressed. Three goals in the first quarter stamped their authority on the game leaving Antrim an uphill battle to climb. The second quarter saw Antrim rally to defend in numbers to keep the score down with Marty Coulter, Stu Campbell, David Mailey, Nathan Murdock and goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill blocking and clearing the ball away from the rampant Lisnagarvey forwards. But the pressure continued and as the Antrim team tired their heads went down and it was no surprise that the homesters added more goals to run out easy winners in this one sided match. This week the Seconds will play Lisnagarvey Sixths on Saturday at the Paddy Marks Arena with a 4pm hit off. The Thirds game against Raphoe on Saturday was cancelled and this week they will play Harlequins Thirds on Friday evening at the Forum with an 8pm start.
Seconds Squad :- C O’Neill, N Murdock, J Kernaghan, S Campbell, D Mailey, M Coulter, S Kernaghan, M Patterson, L Kane, B Creighton, C Roe and J Irwin.