Red card 'was a big call' - Antrim manager Gleeson

Antrim manager Darren Gleeson
Antrim manager Darren Gleeson saw his side go down 2-25 to 1-14 to Galway [Inpho]

There was no great investigation required to identify the key moment in Antrim's 2-25 to 1-14 Leinster SHC defeat to Galway at Corrigan Park on Saturday as Saffrons manager Darren Gleeson reflected on what might have been.

Leading by one at the break and the early stages of the second period, Antrim defender Ryan McGarry was shown red for a high challenge on Conor Whelan.

Towards the end of the opening half, another big call went against Antrim as a James McNaughton free dropped and was fumbled by Galway goalkeeper Darach Fahy.

Antrim's players were convinced the ball had crossed the line but the green flag didn't go up. Instead of a five-point lead, Galway swept upfield and picked off a crucial score.

"It was a big call," said Gleeson of the red card.

"Anything high to the head now seems to be red. I don't think he struck to the head, but his hurley was high and caught the man. It was a pivotal moment in the game but there were a few pivotal moments.

"A ball [McNaughton's first-half free] the boys were sure was over the line - the ball hits the net and came down onto his hand. Usually, that's a goal. We had 15 wides with six or seven dropped short to their seven wides, so we weren't clinical enough."

'Lads put in a big shift'

"They [Galway] were lovely when they had the extra man and moved the ball about, but when the game was a game and it was even numbers, we were in a good position. I'm just disappointed for the lads who put in a big shift.

"Playing with 14 men against 15 for 37 minutes... a nightmare after half-time, but we just get on with it now. We'll be without Ryan and a few others for next week, so all our focus goes on that."

The upshot is that Antrim find themselves in the same position they were in this time last year, requiring a result to save their McCarthy Cup status regardless of how Sunday's game between Carlow and Wexford plays out.

At half-time on Saturday, there was a very real possibility they may have been eyeing the opposite end of the table when they host Carlow next Sunday as they led Galway by one and were full value for their lead, but it would all unravel in the second period with McGarry's dismissal.

"Just stay doing what we are doing was what we said at half-time - keep pressing them and don't give them the free extra man to play out and look nice," Gleeson continued.

"But we lost that when we went a man down and they could spread the ball about the place. That was the decision that was made and it had big consequences for us, but we'll just move on now and our focus turns to Carlow."