Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Antrim bid to beat the drop

Frank Dawson wants Antrim to ease relegation fears

To lose a game at home in the Allianz Football League can spike hopes of promotion or survival but to suffer back-to-back reversals on your own soil can prove tantamount to disaster.

Antrim will discover this should they fail to erase the memory of last weekend's horror show against Roscommon when they host Meath on Sunday.

While much has been made of Meath's fall from grace, they will come to Casement Park armed with three wins in the league to date and further motivated by the fact that they are not yet out of the promotion race.

Antrim manager Frank Dawson is still mystified by his team's sub-standard performance last Saturday but believes that a second home game within a week offers his side the chance of redemption.

"I am at a loss to understand why we were so poor against Meath," says Dawson. "Happily, I don't often have days as bad as that as a manger but it's very hard to take just the same. I would hope that we can cast ourselves in a much better light on Sunday against Meath who will be keen to maintain their recent improvement at our expense."

The absence of Tony Scullion, Kevin Niblock and Michael McCann from Antrim's starting line-up certainly contributed to their poor first-half effort in particular against Roscommon and while Dawson will tweak his side for next Sunday he must surely harbour concerns that he does not have particularly rich resources on his bench. And he will certainly hope that his defence will be on top of their game.

Michael Newman is still largely unknown outside Meath but he has been making a big impact in the Royals attack.

The very prospect of Division Four football should in itself prove a significant spur for Antrim to intensify their survival mission.

A county that is due to house a 40,000 capacity state-of-the-art all-seater stadium in the foreseeable future will, after all, wish to enjoy a status commensurate with the excellent facilities that it will have to offer.