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Antrim pipped by Sligo for top spot as Down win again

Antrim missed out on top spot in their Tailteann Cup group after drawing 0-20 apiece with winners Sligo at Breffni Park.

The Saffrons need to beat Sligo - who edged out Antrim on scoring difference - to go straight into the last-eight stage but they will now play London at home next weekend in the preliminary quarter-finals.

The Ulster side held a one-point lead at the break and it remained close with nothing to seperate the sides at the final whistle.

Down had already secured a quarter-final spot before their 2-22 to 3-13 win over Offaly at the same venue on Sunday.

It made it three group wins from three group games for the Mournemen, who led by eight early in the second period with Offaly down to 14 men.

Offaly fought back to level before late goals from Oisin Savage and Miceal Rooney sealed Down's victory.

Saffrons denied by Sligo

A thrilling game resulted in honours even in the Group 2 showndown on Sunday after both sides had won their opening two fixtures.

The tone was set early as Colm McLarnon kicked Antrim into the lead with Seán Carrabine replying, before Alan McLaughlin and Patrick O'Connor put the Yeatsmen into the lead.

Each time Antrim got up for a score, Sligo would immediately reply with Niall Murphy and Darragh Cummins on target, while Ryan McQuillan began to find his range.

But a run of five scores out of six seemed to suggest Sligo were taking a grip before Antrim reeled off five on the spin to hold a one-point advantage at the break.

Murphy tied it up early in the second period and it remained tight as neither side could exert contril in the third quarter.

Murphy and Nathan Mullen edged the Yeatsmen in front and they responded twice as Antrim drew level.

The gap remained one on 58 minutes when Marc Jordan was put through on the Sligo goal, but blazed wide with the goal at his mercy.

Murphy, Carrabine and Mark Walsh slotted over Sligo points to push the gap to four as the minutes ticked down and they looked in a good place again.

However, there was another Antrim surge as Conor Hand kicked two, McQuillan brought his tally to six and then goalkeeper Michael Byrne levelled from a free.

Oisin Savage scored Down's opening goal against Offaly on Sunday
Oisin Savage scored Down's opening goal against Offaly on Sunday [Inpho]

Down came away with a six-point win over Offaly on Sunday but it was far from from plain sailing.

Offaly may have been already eliminated before the start of play, but they were full of early intent and after Gareth McKibbin opened the scoring for Down, they had the ball in the net through Daire McDaid, who was put in by Cathal Flynn.

Down replied well with the next six points and there was a good spread with no fewer than 10 players getting their name on the scoresheet in the opening period.

The Faithful were hanging in there with Nigel Dunne landing a brace and McDaid complimenting his earlier goal with a point, but Down were able to find a reply in a very open affair as late scores through Shane Annett, Ben McConville and Gareth McKibbin had them 0-16 to 1-6 ahead at the half.

It was a long way back for Offaly and their cause wasn't helped as from the restart, referee Kevin Eannetta produced a red card for midfielder Eoin Carroll.

However, Offaly rose to the challenge superbly with Cormac Egan put through for their second goal on 44 minutes.

Caaolan Mooney hit back with a score for Down, but points from Cathal Flynn and Dunne left just a goal in it and that major would come with 52 on the clock as the ball broke to John Furlong who thumped past John O'Hare.

Down replied with scores from Paddy McCarthy and McCrickard, but Offaly pegged them back once again with eight to play.

Down would then lose Flynn to that second yellow late on but with the issue up for grabs, they found the response as Shane Annett teed-up substitute Savage for the goal and after an exchange of points, a cap was put on it when Rooney poked home at the death.