FL4 final: Louth crowned champions

April 23, 2016

Antrim's Martin Johnson and Conor Grimes of Louth

A stirring second half display saw Louth capture the NFL Division Four title following a 3-12 to 1-14 win over Antrim at Croke Park this afternoon.

Goals win matches and Louth became the first side this year to put more than one past Antrim as Derek Maguire, Jim McEneaney and Conor Grimes all raised green flags.

Antrim looked the more impressive in the first half and were well worth their 1-09 to 1-06 lead at the break. Twice Antrim went long periods without scoring, but their 20 minute spell during the second half ultimately cost them the game.

The crowd hadn't long to wait for the opening score of the game as just 20 second were on the clock when Tomas McCann pointed from play.

Antrim soon doubled their lead when Brian Neeson converted a close range free, but by the fifth minute Louth were ahead as Derek Maguire was played through and he rifled the ball to the roof of the net.

That score was against the run of play, but it seemed to settle the Wee County even though it was Antrim who hit the next two scores as points from Matthew Fitzpatrick and Conor Murray put the Saffrons back into the lead.

Then a piece of magic by Jim McEneaney saw the Louth centre forward curl over a line ball with the outside of his boot, reminiscent of Maurice Fitzgerald's wonder score against Dublin many years ago.

Louth had Maguire back helping out his defence, but he managed to break forward and kick the next point to make it 1-03 to 0-04 after 15 minutes.

Then there was a lull of seven minutes without a score before Richard Johnson charged forward to kick a good score. An excellent score by Tommy Durnin was sandwiched in between two converted frees by McCann.

Antrim were back in front by the 30th minute as Tomas McCann laid off to Fitzpatrick and his low shot settled in the corner of the net, 1-07 to 1-04.

Three frees closed out the first half scoring as McCann tapped over two to bring his tally for the half to five points, while in between these was a Ryan Burns effort.

The second half picked up where the first half ended as McCann (2) scored either side of a Burns free.

Then an answered 1-04 from Louth turned this game on its head. First Califf pointed a free, then Declan Byrne's goalbound effort was deflected over the bar. Califf added another free and then probably the biggest moment in the game as a smart Louth move was begun and ended by McEneaney who picked his spot and fired to the net.

Burns added a free to make it 2-10 to 1-11 by the 59th minute and it looked as if Antrim were out of this game. However, points from Patrick McBride and Murray, which were Antrim's first score in 20 minutes, had the sides level once again.

A long range free by Burns was cancelled out by a similar effort by McCann at the other end, but this was to be their last score as Grimes goal in the 71st minute sealed the win for Louth.

Antrim did go close on a couple of occasions but Maguire capped a fine afternoon with the last point of the game.

Louth - C Lynch; P Rath, P Reilly, K Toner; D Maguire (1-1), D McMahon, E Lafferty; J Stewart, J Califf (0-3, 2f); D Byrne (0-3), J McEneaney (1-1, 0-1sl), T Durnin; C McKeever, C Grimes (1-0), R Burns (0-4, 3f). Subs: J Bingham for K Toner, A Williams for J Bingham (BC), R Moore for D McMahon, G McSorley for J McEneaney, G McSorley for R Burns.

Antrim - C Kerr; N Delargy, C Burke, R Johnson (0-1); K O'Boyle, M Johnson, J Laverty; N McKeever, J Carron; M Fitzpatrick (1-1), K Niblock, C Murray (0-2); B Neeson (0-1), M McCann, T McCann (0-8, 6f). Subs: R Murray for B Neeson, P McBride (0-1) for J Carron, D McAleese for M Fitzpatrick, M Sweeney for J Laverty, J Crozier for C Burke.

Referee - J Henry.

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