Tailteann Cup quarter-final
Antrim 1-19 Carlow 1-15
ANTRIM advanced into the semi-finals of the Tailteann Cup as they fended off the challenge of Carlow at Corrigan Park on Sunday.
Dominic McEnhill top-scored with 11 points for Andy McEntee's side that saw county hurler Gerard Walsh introduced in the second half to confirm his dual status.
The Saffrons grew into the game after a slow start to take over and while Carlow kept in touch, the hosts always seemed to be able to find an answer to get over the line.
They had a good spread of scorers and held their composure down the stretch when the visitors gained a little momentum, but while home nerves were a little frayed, there was still enough to suggest Antrim had the situation under control.
"We just being a little bit cagey and cautious at the start," said Antrim manager Andy McEntee.
"It was nervy at thew end and we did start to give the ball away just and little bit cheaply when there were times we just needed to hang onto it.
"I felt a couple of decisions went against us at the end when we could have had a free out. We definitely could have had a free coming out but then got a black card given against us. That's a big swing but they showed enough composure coming down (the stretch) and you've got to give it to the likes of Dominic and Patrick Finnegan with those scores at the end as we got those scores to break their momentum."
Carlow were much brighter in the opening stages with Ross Dunphy kicking them into a second minute lead, but gradually the hosts settled, pressing the visitors high up the field and this pressure began to pay of as they forced turnovers and won frees.
They did lose Dermott McAleese and Conor Stewart to injures in the opening quarter, but these losses didn't seem to make a dent as Dominic McEnhill levelled from a free and then kicked another three on the spin before goalkeeper Mick Byrne got in on the act with one of his own.
Darragh Foley ended a barren 19 minutes for Carlow from a free and then added another from play immediately after, but Antrim were certainly on top with Cathal Hynds getting their first from play and Patrick McCormick with another.
Antrim led by three after 32 minutes when came a big moment as Patrick McBride's shot for a point dropped short and Aghagallon's Ruairi McCann got the faintest of touches to the net.
There were further goal chances as McEnhill was thwarted by Johnny Furey and Marc Jordan with an effort hacked clear, but the Saffrons were 1-8 to 0-5 to the good at the half.
The visitors began the second period brightly with Foley kicking an early free, but Antrim always had an answer for what was thrown at them as they managed to manage the lead with Peter Healy, Marc Jordan and Creggan's Ruairi McCann assisting McEnhill who was keeping the board ticking.
Carlow refused to budge either with Dunphy in fine form, while Foley and Conor Crowley kept them in touch.
They were right back in the game on 59 minutes as Mikey Bambrick finished past substitute goalkeeper Luke Mulholland to reduce the arrears to four and Mulholland then hacked off her line from Crowley, but they were unable to maintain the pressure as Antrim steadied with scores fro Patrick Finnegan and McEnhill helping push the gap to six with the game heading towards stoppage time.
Both sides saw players back-carded within minutes of each other - Antrim's Eoghan McCabe and Carlow's Jamie Clarke - while Antrim then had another in Ronan Boyle.
Three points in a row fro Foley left just a goal in it, but Antrim would see it out as McEnhill fistyed over to seal the win and a place in the last four.
ANTRIM: M Byrne (0-2, 1 free, 1 45); P McCormick (0-1), P Healy (0-1), E McCabe; D McAleese, D Lynch, R Boyle; C Stewart, C Hynds (0-1); M Jordan (0-1), A Loughran, R McCann (Creggan, 0-1); P McBride, R McCann (Aghagallon, 1-0), D McEnhill (0-11, 7 frees).
Subs: J Finnegan for D McAleese (head injury, 8), E Quinn for C Stewart (17), G Walsh for P Healy (48), C Johnston for A Loughran (56), L Mulholland for M Byrne (59), P Finnegan (0-1) for R McCann (Creggan, 63)
CARLOW: J Furey; S Buggy, M Bambrick (1-0), M Furey; N Hickey (0-1), S Bambrick, J Clarke; C Doyle, J Morrissey; C Crowley (0-2), J Moore, R Dunphy (0-4); C Hulton, D Foley (0-8, 6 frees), A Amond.
Subs: J Dunne for S Buggy (45), E Molloy for C Hulton (52), D Curran for N Hickey (70), F Kavanagh for C Doyle (70)
REFEREE: John Gilmartin (Sligo)