Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Antrim fired up for survival fight

Saffrons are fired up for survival fightHIS side may have flopped at home against Meath at the weekend yet Antrim manager Frank Dawson clings to the belief that all is not lost in their bid to avoid the drop to the backwaters of Division Four of the Allianz Football League.

The Saffrons travel to promotion-chasing Monaghan on Sunday in what is in essence a backs to the wall fight to retain their league status.

He may view the glass as being half full but Dawson will surely hope for a more composed and disciplined performance from his side than that in evidence against the Royals when Conor Murray and Dermot McCann were red-carded in an unexpected eleven-point mauling.

Certainly hopes springs eternal from Antrim’s perspective but that hope must be supplemented by drive, intensity and considerable skill if they are to derive any benefit from their joust with Malachy O’Rourke’s side who share second place in the table with revitalised Meath.

“It’s in our hands. It would be a worse situation if it was already clear-cut and we were down,” muses Dawson.

“It’s in our own hands to do something on Sunday and I still believe that we are capable of staying in the third division no matter what anyone thinks.”

But if they are to survive, Antrim will need to make a much better start than they did against Meath, gain a foothold at midfield and then bid to shackle the dangerous Conor McManus and Paul Finlay in the Monaghan attack.

“We have to make the most of this chance. We must make sure that we take our scoring opportunities, too,” insists Dawson.

Justin Crozier and Kevin O’Boyle will have key roles in the Antrim defence while Sean McVeigh is likely to underpin the midfield with Paddy Cunningham, Tómas McCann and Kevin Niblock looking certain starters in attack.

Antrim are due to meet Monaghan further along the line in the Ulster Championship but Dawson does not mince his words in relation to Sunday’s big showdown.

“We have got to treat this with all the intensity of a championship match,” raps the Saffrons boss.

“That means giving it everything from the start, cutting out silly mistakes and making sure that we keep our shape and our discipline.”

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