By Conor McLoughlin
Antrim 1-12 -- Carlow 0-15

Antrim and Carlow had to settle for a point each as they battled to a draw in the opening round of the National League Division 4 campaign at a snowy Páirc Naomh Pól on Sunday afternoon.
Antrim, playing their first football match in Belfast in over 18 months, got off to the perfect start when Ryan Murray squeezed a point inside the post inside 30 seconds. 
Carlow played their way back into contention with a brace of points from their dangerman Paul Broderick.
Antrim fought back to move in front after 20 minutes with scores from Michael Pollock (two) and Owen Gallagher, but Carlow did have the ball in the net when Hugh Gahan punched home from close range, but it was ruled out for a square ball. 
The sides traded scores before points from Broderick and Brendan Murphy seemed to put Carlow in control, but an excellent Pollock score from a tight angle left the minimum between the sides at the break.
Antrim started the second half on the front foot when Tony Scullion burst forward and slipped the ball to Ryan Murray who in turn fed Owen Gallagher, who finished well to the net for the only goal of the game. 
Carlow came roaring back and soon levelled the match thanks to three consecutive Broderick points.
The sides then exchanged scores – and black cards – in an ill-disciplined conclusion to the match. Antrim trio Ryan Murray, Conor Murray and Niall McKeever were all sent to the line along with Carlow’s Declan Kelly. McKeever had already been booked meaning Antrim finished the match a man down. 
In a dramatic and twisting second half Antrim at one stage lead by three but Carlow fought back. 
The impressive Owen Gallagher edged the hosts back in front with four minutes to go but John Murphy tied the scores with two minutes to go.
Conor McGourty went close with a sideline ball that shaved the post and a brave James Laverty block at the death denied Carlow victory.

ANTRIM: C Kerr, J Laverty, C Burke, T Scullion, D Lynch, J Crozier, J Carron, S McVeigh (B Hasson 44 mins), N McKeever, C Murray 0-1 (black card 53, replaced by Niall O’Neill), O Gallagher 1-4, T McCann (M Sweeney 64 mins), R Murray 0-1 (black card 38, replaced by P McBride 0-1), C McGourty 0-1, M Pollock 0-4

CARLOW: C Kearney, D Kelly (black card 47 mins, replaced by BJ Molloy), S Redmond, K Nolan, D Hayden (M Fitzgerald, 45 mins), D St Ledger (E Ruth 63 mins), B Kavanagh, S Gannon, D Foley 0-1, E Finnegan 0-1 (A Kelly 0-1, 42 mins), C Moran (J Murphy 0-3, 45 mins), D Bambrick, P Broderick 0-8, B Murphy 0-1, H Gahan

REFEREE: B Rice (Down)

See this week’s Andersonstown News and North Belfast News for full report, analysis, reaction, tables, pictures and a look ahead to next Sunday’s National League clash in Longford

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