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High-flying Antrim footballers won't get carried away

By John Campbell

With maximum points from three games, not a single goal conceded to date and confidence levels that are growing, Antrim find themselves in a rather strange place as the Allianz Football League enters a crucial phase.

Instead of striving to bolster morale as has been the lot of the county's bosses of recent vintage, management duo Gearoid Adams and his partner Frank Fitzsimmons are working hard to ensure that their players' feet remain firmly on the ground.

Adams insisted: "There is always the danger that lads can begin to believe in their own publicity and while we are grateful for the positive light in which the side is cast, we know that we are about to enter the really hard part of the competition."

Having overcome Carlow, Wexford and Leitrim, the Saffrons will travel to face London on Sunday before confronting Waterford at home the following weekend.

The realistic expectation is that they will win these two games thus setting the scene for what should be an exciting climax to Division Four.

Antrim's last two games are against Wicklow and Louth, the teams that are currently jockeying with them for promotion with Wexford also in the hunt.

Fitzsimmons, forced to bat away criticism of his side earlier in the campaign, recognises that the last two rounds of the competition will be "absolutely crucial" in determining Antrim's future.

"We have been taking things one game at a time and that's the way it will stay," pointed out Fitzsimmons.

"We are certainly not getting carried away. There is a lot of football still to be played before teams in all four divisions learn just where they will be playing their football next year.

"Obviously our last two games in particular will be absolutely crucial."

Having kept a clean sheet in the three games to date, Antrim goalkeeper Chris Kerr is hoping to extend his unblemished record this weekend.

Justin Crozier and Michael McCann are doubtful for the trip to London because of injury but the Antrim management can derive considerable comfort from the contribution made by their substitutes against Leitrim last weekend.

Brian Neeson, Mark Sweeney, Ryan Murray, Niall Delargy and Patrick McBride were sprung from the bench to telling effect while the Johnston brothers, Ricky and Martin, replaced Crozier and McCann before the game began.

Neeson scored 1-1 even though he was only on the pitch for a few minutes to help Antrim to their 2-14 to 0-10 win and now covets a starting place against a London side that remains pointless at the bottom of the table.

Antrim not only hope to win in London but they will be seeking to boost their scoring average as score difference will come into the reckoning where necessary when promotion places are being determined.

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