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Antrim's problems are not Dawson's fault, maintains McVeigh

By Declan Bogue

One of Antrim's key footballers has supported Frank Dawson's bid to remain in the role of senior county football manager.

Sean McVeigh, a former captain of London who returned at the end of last year and resumed his career with the Saffrons, claims that a lot of the problems in Antrim football currently stem from "lack of finances," and that Dawson "gets my support."

The county board are due to meet on Monday, July 22 in their first gathering since the footballers exited the All-Ireland Championship after a stubborn showing against Louth.

They have always operated a policy of reviewing the progress of team managers and club delegates will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the situation.

The future of Dawson is sure to come under scrutiny as Antrim endured a torrid season.

They won only one game in the McKenna Cup, a home fixture against Jordanstown.

After beginning the league brightly with a win over Cavan, they failed to pick up any wins thereafter and begin life in 2014 in division four.

They exited the Ulster Championship with a meek performance against Monaghan before a more spirited showing in the qualifiers against Louth.

McVeigh explained the context of the situation Antrim find themselves in when he said: "I think if Frank is to get the full support of the county board then he could do a good job.

"A lot of our problems come from lack of resources and if Frank gets these then he could do well. He gets my support."

Antrim were also at the centre of a storm when a very public fall-out occurred between the manager and two Cargin players; Tomás McCann and Tony Scullion over travelling arrangements for the final regulation league match against Monaghan.

Both men were let go from the panel and while publicly Michael McCann left after the third league game citing the commitment of opening a new business, he is also understood to be unsatisfied with the managerial situation.

However, in Dawson's defence, Antrim came close to defeating both Fermanagh and Wicklow during the league campaign – drawing with both.

If they had managed to win those games they would have been safe from relegation.

He also brought a welcome return to the county panel for the highly-rated Sean Kelly, who had been in exile since the 2010 Championship defeat in Casement Park to Kildare.

Mark Sweeney has been playing his club football with St Jude's in Dublin, but was also back in the county fold by the Championship.

McVeigh was also very keen to point out that Dawson was assiduous in his talent-spotting in assembling the best Antrim panel he could.

Having lost James Loughrey when he moved to Cork, and given Aodhan Gallagher's exile that began under previous manager Liam Bradley, Dawson was already operating off a weakened hand before he got started in earnest in the job.

"He, for the first time, gave every lad in the county a chance to play for Antrim," said McVeigh, "and is the only Antrim manager that went to at least two or three club games of every club team in division one and two."

He finished: "With this year behind him, I think he will learn a lot and progress from here."

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