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Antrim can stand tall if we believe in ourselves: Sean

By John Campbell

Antrim midfield strongman Sean McVeigh is urging his team-mates to rid themselves of what he believes to be an inherent inferiority complex before they get down to business in the Dr McKenna Cup and Allianz League.

The county may have been rocked recently by the resignation of two of its most high-profile administrators in Tyrone Eastwood and Jim Murray but McVeigh, who wields considerable influence within the side because of his imposing presence and articulate views, is now calling for a total focus on on-field activity.

Clearly frustrated by what he feels can be construed at times as affording opponents too much respect, McVeigh insists that Antrim have playing resources on a par with most other counties.

"There is a mindset installed within Antrim players that is indicative of an inferiority complex but we have to get rid of this," blasted McVeigh. "We have to make sure that we stand tall.

"We are as good as anybody else in terms of talent but I think that we have to apply ourselves better and believe in our ability. I don't care what anyone says, a massive part of any team's make-up is belief.

"If you as a player believe that you are going to do well, without doubt you will commit yourself more, you will work harder and you will make the necessary sacrifices without moaning. And all this can lead to success, there is no doubt about that."

Antrim surged into Division Three earlier this year and are now preparing to pit their skills against teams such as Tipperary, Armagh, Laois, Offaly and Longford.

Before then, they will contest Section B in the Dr McKenna Cup in which they will face St Mary's University College, Fermanagh and Monaghan.

"I am convinced that if a team can make a bit of headway in the McKenna Cup then this can seep through to the league," insisted McVeigh. "It's absolutely imperative that we win our first two games before the league takes a break.

"This year we won our opening games and we went on from there to gain promotion. In 2017, we will need to replicate our good start because if we don't we could find ourselves in trouble.

"Our opening two games are against Tipperary, who reached the All-Ireland semi-finals this year, and Offaly, who have improved lately, so this tells you how difficult it is going to be for us. It is essential that we approach these games armed with a positive mindset."

McVeigh, a schoolteacher in Darragh Cross, hails the fresh tranche of talent that has come to the fore in the Saffrons squad recently and believes there is more on the way.

"When you look at players like Patrick McBride and Matthew Fitzpatrick, for instance, you see real talent and I believe when those two and other players are doing the business for their clubs they are as good as there is in the country," asserted McVeigh.

"The challenge is for those two and other players to bring their qualities to the table on a consistent basis for Antrim and by doing so they will play a big part in helping the county to make further progress.

"We all have to be on our toes from the word go at the start of January. The challenge is there and has to be met head-on. Obviously a few new boys will be brought in at the start so that the management can see what they have at their disposal but we always take the McKenna Cup very seriously.

"We really want to perform the best we possibly can. Speaking for myself, I will play anywhere I am asked although I must say I have a sneaking liking for full-back even though I am seen as a midfielder.

"But when I pull on that saffron jersey I just want to give it everything and if we can get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet in this connection then we won't be too far away."

Belfast Telegraph

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