Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

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It's time for Antrim to toughen up: Liam Bradley

By John Campbell

Published 26/06/2014

Antrim's Liam Bradley
Antrim's Liam Bradley

Antrim football boss Liam Bradley finds himself consumed by statistics of an alarming nature as he targets a meaningful journey through the All-Ireland qualifiers.

In their last two games, the Saffrons have conceded a total of 6-29 and that's a telling indictment of a defence that errs far too much on the side of generosity.

In overcoming Fermanagh, Bradley's side, inspired by Brian Neeson, landed 3-13 but still conceded 2-18 and then against Donegal on Sunday last they leaked 3-16, the bulk of these scores coming in a second-half collapse.

There are no prizes for guessing just what Bradley's priority is.

In overcoming Fermanagh, Antrim were well served by their full-forward line of Neeson, Kevin Niblock and Tómas McCann who scored 2-12 between them.

But against a teak-tough Donegal defence last weekend the Antrim full-forward line scored just two points from play and their overall return was 0-7.

Yet Bradley retains faith in his team's ability to lift themselves for the qualifiers.

"We gave away a couple of careless goals against Fermanagh and we shipped too many scores in the second-half against Donegal. That certainly will not do if we hope to progress through the qualifiers," raps Bradley.

Antrim are only one of a handful of counties still in the frame for the All-Ireland football and hurling titles and county board secretary Frankie Quinn suggests that Kevin Ryan's hurlers can perhaps set the tone against Offaly on Sunday.

"We had hoped for home advantage and we got it. Now we have to make the most of it. If we could get a home tie in the football it would be a boost," states Quinn.

"We are getting to the cutting edge of the season and while it's great that Antrim are still involved on two fronts, the pressure is really on now."

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