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We have to stick together and bounce back, says Fitzsimons

By Declan Bogue

Published 16/05/2016

Antrim manager Frankie Fitzsimons took an age to emerge from the Brewster Park dressing rooms after this defeat.

The mood wouldn't have been great, as one panellist wished the waiting journalists 'good luck' with getting him to speak, alluding to a tough post-mortem.

Fitzsimons was as courteous as ever as he manned up and stated: "We never turned up.

"There's no point trying to gloss over it, we just didn't turn up in the first half. We were very poor and you can't play Ulster Championship matches for 20 minutes and expect to win.

"We just have to give them a few days off and regroup and hopefully get a draw in the backdoor and get a win or two."

Of course, losing Niall McKeever was a huge loss to them, but the surprising thing was how Fitzsimons said his absence trigged a domino effect in the group; "No matter what you say, heads drop. People loom around…"

Fermanagh's greater finishing power was a factor, he explained.

"We had 14 attacks in the first half and so did they.

"We were shooting from very poor angles and you could see where they have learned from going through the backdoor last year. Any time we did go to attack they were fouling us and slowing the game up. I thought we were naive at times, it was just one of those days. You can plan for everything but we just didn't turn up in the first half."

Straws of consolation, such as a second half chance that Brian Neeson blazed into the side-netting, went unclutched.

"If Bam maybe even had have taken a point it would have left us closer. It's one of those things that we just have to go from here."

The backdoor brought victory against Laois on a glorious day last summer, although he joked about the impossibility of a home draw, another couple of games there, possibly giving a more glamorous side a better rattle then here, would at least give them some sort of a platform.

"We just have to stick together and get back at it," he finished.

Nothing else for it. Championship is underway, but it won't feel like it until next Sunday.

Belfast Telegraph

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