Antrim call on strength to plug leaking defence
ANTRIM manager Liam Bradley has quickly discovered that size really does matter, even in the relative backwater of Division Four of the Allianz Football League.
His team have already suffered defeats to Leitrim and Wicklow and for Sunday's showdown at home to Waterford, Bradley hopes to bolster his defence in particular.
In losing to Wicklow by 3-9 to 1-13, Antrim were unable to cope with the height and power of James Stafford and Leighton Glynn, so Bradley hopes to take remedial action for the remainder of his side's league itinerary.
The talented Johnston brothers, Martin and Ricky, both of whom carry a commanding presence, missed the outing against the Garden County because of Kickhams Creggan involvement in the All-Ireland Junior Club hurling final and they are expected to resume duty against Waterford.
But the loss of Kevin O'Boyle, who incurred a foot injury against Wicklow, is seen as a blow.
It was Wicklow's ability to win high ball pumped consistently into the Antrim goalmouth that proved crucial to their win even though Tony Scullion, Justin Crozier and O'Boyle worked hard in the Saffrons' defence.
C J McGourty landed six points from play and manager Bradley is hoping that he can maintain this scoring rate in Sunday's tie.
"We created plenty of chances against Wicklow but it was the concession of the three goals that undid us," admits Bradley. "We have boys like CJ and others up front who can take scores but we can't afford to be giving away so much."
* ANTRIM hurler Eddie McCloskey wants to see Liam Watson back in a county jersey this summer – but only with the Ulster side.
Watson was linked with a switch to Dublin last week, and Anthony Daly recently spoke about him in glowing terms, but the Dubs boss distanced himself from any move for the Loughgiel Shamrocks man, who is out of favour with the Saffrons management. Watson seemed to hint that he would be open to a switch on social media, but McCloskey – who also hurls with Watson at club level – wants him back with his native county.
"I would love to have him on the Antrim panel and I can't see why if Dublin want him, why do Antrim not want him to play?," McCloskey said. "I hope to God come the middle of the summer, he's playing beside me for Antrim."