Premier Section Match Report – Co. Antrim 5 – 0 Co. Down

Jul 29, 2016 | Premier Section

County Antrim secured 3rd place in this year’s competition with a resounding victory over a County Down side who just ran out of steam, but can be extremely proud of their exploits over the past week.

It was actually Down who had started the brightest in this contest, a good early run down the right wing from Tom Mathieson stretched the Antrim defence and he delivered a nice ball across the box, but the Antrim keeper, Declan Dunne, did well to turn the ball away from danger. From the resulting corner, Adam Garland rose high and with plenty of space could not direct his free header goalwards.

It was against the run of play that Antrim’s opening goal came.  Cormac Lawlor made a bursting run down the right flank from his right back berth, he was getting close to the box when pushed to the ground, winning a free kick.  Liam McKenna lined up the ball, with the keeper, Matthew Anderson, staying to the right side of the goal, McKenna curled a lovely shot into the left hand corner of the goal, as Anderson scrambled across his line in vain.

It was only a matter of a few minutes when McKenna, himself, won another free kick in an almost identical position.  Despite the previous goal, the keeper took up exactly the same starting position, and McKenna delivered exactly the same shot as before, sending the ball into the top left hand corner, once again, out of Anderson’s reach to double Antrim’s lead.

The second goal really lifted Antrim and they started to play some wonderful football, McKenna and Lawlor were at the centre of almost every positive move. In contrast, Down’s confidence left them and they became very sloppy in possession.  A long range Darryl McKenna effort almost gave Antrim a third after Down had lost the ball very cheaply in midfield.

Just as the half time whistle was about to blow, Antrim did get their 3rd.  Lawlor found himself in acres of space down the right flank, he carried the ball to the by-line and knocked in a perfect cross right on to the head of Daniel Reynolds who gave the keeper no chance with a powerful header.

In a similar manner to the first half, Down did come out of the blocks well at the start of the second half and enjoyed a decent spell of possession.  Aaron Devlin, who came on as a sub just before half time, looked particularly dangerous and a lot of Down’s attacking play was going through him.

However, yet again, Down were caught when they were pushing hard to get back in the game.  McKenna got the ball on the left and danced his way into the penalty area, Kyle Calderwood making it much too easy for the talented Antrim winger.  As McKenna entered the area, a Down boot clipped him and he went to ground, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.  McKenna did lift the ball and it looked like he may go for the hat trick, but skipper Lawlor had other ideas and he placed the ball before smashing an unstoppable shot into the side of the net to make it 4-0 to Antrim.

It was not long until the 5th arrived and, once again, McKenna was involved as more great wing play saw him win a corner for his team.  Despite losing his footing, Francis Nolan delivered a great ball in to the box where it was met by Reynolds with another great header for his 2nd of the match.

Understandably, Down started to struggle afterwards and Antrim knocked the ball about nicely.  Devlin had a couple of chances to get a goal which his general play probably deserved but all efforts were in vain. The referee tried to help them by giving them a soft penalty when Devlin went down easily in the box, but Jack Sharvin’s effort was superbly saved by Dunne, who pushed it onto the post and the danger was cleared.

As the game move towards the final whistle, Down got one last chance to get a goal on the board.  A challenge just outside the box gave them a dangerous free kick 20 yards right in front of the goal.  However, Brandon Nelson sent the ball never troubled the keeper as he sent the ball high into the Portstewart breeze, which just about summed up the day for Down.  A disappointing end to a good week for them but Antrim can celebrate 3rd spot.

By Ray Baxter (@8ballRB)