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Antrim have sights set on higher plane

By Declan Bogue

Division Four is a curious scene. Each team see themselves in more illustrious company and counties can almost develop a distaste from learning too much about each other.

Take Antrim goalkeeper Chris Kerr for example. The 27-year-old St Gall's netminder does not know how Carlow are progressing after three league games, but he is aware of one thing.

"They have one of my heroes in helping them out, in Sean O'Brien (the Leinster and Ireland flanker). He is able to come in and bring his professionalism," said Kerr.

O'Brien's role within Carlow GAA was confined to a period when the Tullow man was out injured, but it hasn't prevented them falling to three straight defeats, with manager Anthony Rainbow coming under pressure.

Kerr and Antrim, though, are heading in the opposite direction. Last weekend's win over Waterford arrested a run of two defeats, giving them a foothold at fifth in the table before they meet the Barrowsiders, who share bottom spot in the basement division with London this weekend.

Kerr was in direct form as he said: "No team – and every team in division four is the same – wants to be in the bottom division, you want to be playing against better opposition; against the top teams.

"Certainly, we have aspirations of getting out of this league and hopefully the next few games will put us in the position to do that."

That didn't look likely as they fell to defeats against Leitrim and Wicklow, but they have managed to identify some key faults and work on them.

"Our forwards weren't great against Leitrim and then the defence against Wicklow was poor. I think we got it fixed by the time we played Waterford," he said.

Conceding three goals at home to Wicklow was a real blow as a goalkeeper, but anyone who has witnessed Kerr in action will attest that he lacks nothing in communication skills, as he says: "I don't know if it would be possible, me becoming more vocal!"

Rather, he puts it down to the Creggan brothers of Ricky and Martin Johnston resuming their place in defence.

"Having them two big lumps back in is a good thing and I think collectively we have been playing a bit better as well," said Kerr.

"Waterford are a massive team with two big full-forwards and I think it suited Ricky and Marty."

The form of his clubmate CJ McGourty, who accounted for 10 points last weekend, has also been a real help, now that he has committed to the inter-county scene.

As someone who has watched McGourty's entire career, Kerr commented: "He's always had the ability, it was more the application. This year he has bought into the weights programme. It definitely is showing in his game and he has lost maybe a bit of the puppy-fat he was carrying and looks a lot sharper."

* CREGGAN Kickhams were informed yesterday that the Ballysaggart appeal against their win in the All-Ireland Junior hurling Championship had failed.

Ballysaggart launched an appeal on the grounds that they alleged a Creggan player was underage, but the case was heard and no action will be taken against the south-west Antrim club, who are without dispute All-Ireland champions.

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