NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 4
Antrim v Limerick
Sunday, Portglenone, 2pm
Antrim’s Colum Duffin says the Saffrons are still determined to earn promotion to division three.
They think they can achieve the goal despite having dropped another point last weekend.
The Saffrons went up against Turlough O’Brien’s Carlow, and they were smothered by the blanket defence. They shipped an early goal and had a six point margin to make up. They managed to draw level but couldn’t get the win.
Now they are out of the promotion places in division four, but with a game against the leaders this weekend, and the top two still due to play each other, three wins would gain them promotion.
Duffin said: “It is so hard to get out of division four. But it is still in our hands. We have to win the rest of our games.
“We know that we have to play better against Limerick.”
Limerick are the league leaders at the moment, and have won all four games.
“We played them for the last two years and we know how good they are. They have strong players and some very good forwards.
“But they are a team that we should be beating if we have any aspirations of going up.
“It is very difficult to get out of division four. But we want to be up in division three. If we win this weekend we are right back into it.”
Antrim were odds on favourites to beat Carlow last weekend. But after going 1-3 to no score behind early on, they had too much to do against a Carlow team who are adept at stopping teams from playing.
“You can’t afford to let a team have a six-point head start. The way that they play is to defend so it was always going to be tough to get back into the game. They play a lot of men behind the ball. We did well to get back into the game.”
Perhaps what was also frustrating was that Antrim had a couple of chances to win.
They got caught in possession late on. And Duffin himself had a free to win, but it flew wide.
“Someone had to take it as Paddy was off the field and there are no other left-footed freetakers. I hit the frees for the club. We should have been a lot closer to them.
“The hammer blow was the early goal. We did well to work our way back into the game.”
They do deserve credit for breaking down Carlow’s defence as it is one of the tougher rearguards in the league. After last weekend’s match, only Limerick have a tighter defence.
But Duffin explained how Antrim are working to beat the blanket.
“Brendan Trainer and Fintan (Devlin) do a lot of work with the forwards. They try to get us working wide, get runners through the middle and not to bring the ball in to contact. If you do that then you are playing into their hands.”
Duffin said that for much of the latter stages of the game they were able to stick to that plan, and they made inroads.
The key was Michael McCann coming on. His experience along with the guile of another sub, Odhran Eastwood, helped Antrim to pick Carlow apart.
Much was made about McCann’s return, but Duffin said that the return of the experienced players like McCann who has had a few years away from the team, has not changed the dynamic of the team.
“It is good to have those experienced players, and they are level headed. It is good that they are back in there, but it doesn’t change the dynamic.
“The more good players that Antrim have the better it is.”
It is good experience for the younger players like Adam Loughran and Dominc McEnhill.