Shocks ahoy as Antrim and Tipp progress in football qualifiers
The football qualifiers are always good for a shock or two and they threw up a couple more today with Antrim and Tipperary progressing to Round Three.
Both counties were underdogs heading into clashes against Galway and Wexford respectively, but both had reasons to fancy their chances as well. For a start, Antrim and Tipp were on home turf, Galway and Wexford would have been reeling from defeats to Sligo and Dublin and the Tribesmen haven’t won a championship game against anyone from outside of Connacht in nine years.
That said, both victories came in dramatic circumstances, with Wexford coming from seven points down to level the scores after a Donagh Leahy goal had helped the Premier into a comprehensive lead. After Wexford equalised, Tipp rallied to reclaim the lead and went on to win by the narrowest of margins.
Ben Brosnan, who enjoyed such a fine first half before capitulating after half-time against the Dubs, came off the bench and had a chance to equalise right at the death but pulled his effort wide of the target.
Antrim also had only a point to spare over the Westerners at Casement Park as Deaghlan O’Hagan came off the bench to fire over an injury-time winner in a game that was neck and neck throughout. Michael and Tomas McCann were also impressive for Antrim and although they should be lauded for their victory, Galway’s repeated failure to cope with the back door must be depressing for their followers at this stage.
The last time they won a game in the qualifiers was against Louth in July 2004 and for a county of their calibre, that’s just not good enough.
One team who have always coped well in the qualifiers is Tyrone and they brushed past the challenge of Roscommon with little difficulty this afternoon. Like Wexford and Galway, they too had to travel, but they made light of the disadvantage of playing away from home and cruised past the Rossies by eleven points.
Championship debutant Darren McCurry kicked four points, Owen Mulligan kicked five and Peter Harte slotted a penalty in what was a facile win for Mickey Harte’s men.
The victories for Tipperary and Antrim were exciting, but the game of the day came in Pearse Park, where Longford’s remarkable championship run finally came to an end at the hands of Limerick.
It took extra-time to separate the sides after an absorbing encounter, with the dismissals of Declan Reilly and Paul Barden having a major effect on Longford as the Treaty men emerged as relatively comfortable six-point winners in the end.
Debutant Derry O’Connor came off the bench to hit 1-2 for Maurice Horan’s men, including the equaliser to bring it to extra-time, while fellow substitute Iain Corbett also stood out.
The excellent Seanie McCormack kicked eight points in what was a heartbreaking defeat for Longford, who have been one of the stories of the championship so far and look like they have the capacity to make an impact in the next few years.
All-Ireland Football Qualifiers Round 2 Results:
Tyrone 1-16 – 0-8 Roscommon
Limerick 1-21 – 1-15 Longford (after extra-time)
Tipperary 1-13 – 0-15 Wexford
Antrim 0-11 – 0-10 Galway