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Antrim have quality to survive a showdown: Fitzsimons

By John Campbell

Antrim joint manager Frank Fitzsimons is keeping his fingers crossed that he will have more selection options available to him for Sunday's all-important Allianz Football League Division Three clash with Longford.

After making the leap from Division Four, the Saffrons are in grave danger of making an all too quick return to the lowest section - something that Fitzsimons and his managerial partner Gearoid Adams are desperately keen to avoid.

Ryan Murray, Seamus McGarry, Tomás McCann, Jack Hannigan and Odhran Eastwood did not make last Saturday's defeat to Armagh at the Athletic Grounds, but Fitzsimons is optimistic that at least some of these players will be in the reckoning for this weekend's Corrigan Park tie.

Antrim are one of four teams, including Longford, currently propping up the Division Three table on four points having lost four of the six matches they have played.

As fate would have it, their fellow strugglers Offaly and Laois also meet on Sunday, thus lending an extra dimension of intrigue and pressure to the race to stay up.

"I believe we are good enough to stay in Division Three. We put in a huge effort against Armagh and were unlucky in ways. But we have to make our own luck on Sunday against Longford," insisted Fitzsimons.

"They will be very anxious to get the points but I have to say that playing in Corrigan Park has to favour us. We are generally comfortable there and I think that if we play to our potential, which we did for much of the game against Armagh, we will be in with a decent chance of staying up.

"We worked very hard to earn our place in Division Three and we certainly don't want to surrender it easily."

The absence of Murray in particular was felt against the Orchard County and Fitzsimons believes that his side for Sunday's mission could now carry a more experienced flavour.

"We have players who are as good as any in Ulster but we must click on the day," he added. "This is our last chance of keeping our integrity. With the greatest respect, Division Four is not where we want to be."

Meanwhile, the Ulster Council has been left with a headache following the postponement of last night's two provincial U21 Football Championship semi-finals.

It is expected that the Armagh v Derry tie which was scheduled for Omagh and the Donegal v Cavan clash which was due to take place at Enniskillen will be played next week with the final, which had been arranged for next Wednesday, deferred to a later date.

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