Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Dawson backed to revitalise Saffrons

When Antrim stumbled out of the All-Ireland football qualifiers to Louth, the cynics had a field day.

That, they concluded, would see the end of Frank Dawson as team manager after a matter of months in charge.

But the county board thought otherwise and today Dawsonis commencing the task of assembling a panel for next season.

Demotion to Division Four of the league preceded this summer's ignominious championship exit yet Dawson, far from wallowing in negativity, believes that the emergence of a posse of talented young players, a more enlightened approach by the county board and a deep yearning on his own part to restore Saffron pride can yield dividends.

"Relegation was a huge disappointment and now our primary aim will be to get out of the bottom division quickly," he asserts. "We learned a lot of lessons this year. There are a lot of talented players in Antrim and we ... hope to put more under the microscope during the closing phase of the county championship."

At the outset of his tenure last year, he made it clear that it would take at least two years to achieve the fluency he was seeking.

"You cannot devise systems of playing and expect them to work in the short term. It takes time for players to become acclimatised to a certain formula," he adds.

But while Dawson plots Antrim's future, Laois boss Justin McNulty will seek pastures new.

There was disappointment when Laois fell to Louth in the Leinster championship but they bounced back in the qualifiers to beat Carlow, Clare and Wexford before falling to Donegal.

"I feel it is time to move on," McNulty says. "I enjoyed working with the players they showed good commitment in responding through the qualifiers this year."