McGinley claims bragging rights as Antrim pip Harte’s Louth
Pupil got the better of master in Dundalk where Enda McGinley’s Antrim finished strongly to steal the Allianz NFL Division 4 north points from Mickey Harte’s Louth.
In a cracking finale, Antrim reeled off the last three scores including the winning point from Ryan Murray deep into stoppage time.
Harte, who switched to take over Louth last November just 10 days after ending his 18-year stint in charge of Tyrone, looked set for a maiden victory when captain Sam Mulroy struck his second goal.
That 64th minute strike left Louth two points clear but McGinley, who started all three of Tyrone’s All-Ireland final wins under Harte in the 2000s, will take real heart from the Saffron’s finish.
Points from subs Paddy Cunningham and Eunan Walsh tied the game for the seventh time and Murray won it for the visitors when he cut in from the right wing and pointed.
There was more drama for Murray too as the Antrim top scorer picked up a booking which, on top of an earlier black card, resulted in his dismissal.
Ciaran Keenan will go down as the scorer of the first point of the Harte era, a well-worked fourth minute score off his left boot.
Keenan also closed out the first-half scoring with a beauty from play close to the halfway line, leaving Louth 2-5 to 1-6 clear at the interval.
Former Australian Rules player Ciaran Byrne pulled the strings for Louth at midfield alongside Bevan Duffy though tired in the second-half while the returning Andy McDonnell was influential.
Mulroy was stationed at the point of their attack though typical of the counter attacking style synonymous with Harte’s Tyrone teams, all 14 outfield players funnelled back to defend behind the ball when necessary.
McGinley’s Antrim carried a threat each time they attacked and started brightly to take a 1-3 to 0-3 lead at the first water break.
Dermot McAleese’s 15th minute goal separated the teams at that stage.
It was a cracking strike after a swift passing move up the field and the Saffrons retained the three-point advantage with 27 minutes played.
Louth finished the half stronger though, striking two goals inside 120 seconds before the half-hour mark to turn the game back in their favour.
Mulroy hit the first from a penalty. Antrim rued the concession as it stemmed from goalkeeper Michael Byrne initially curling the ball out of play from a kick-out.
Sean Marry, one of three Louth debutants, punted in a hopeful line ball from the right and Antrim full-back Declan Lynch was adjudged to have fouled Declan Byrne, handing Mulroy the penalty opportunity.
Marry grabbed Louth’s second goal after a well worked move upfield that began with Ciaran Byrne playing on and bursting forward after a mark at midfield.
Murray’s return for Antrim early in the second-half following a sin-binning was significant and he converted two frees to tie up the scores.
They were level twice more including at the second water break when they stalled at 2-7 to 1-10.
Mulroy struck a cracking second goal, Louth’s third, six minutes from time but Antrim ultimately finished the stronger to put themselves in a strong position in their group.
PAUL KEANE (Irish Examiner)
GERALDINES GAA GROUNDS, HAGGARDSTOWN