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Fitzsimons to bring fresh relief to Saffrons

By John Campbell

Published 15/06/2015

Power of three: Kildare’s Eoghan O’Flaherty scores his side’s third goal against Laios
Power of three: Kildare’s Eoghan O’Flaherty scores his side’s third goal against Laios

Antrim football boss Frank Fitzsimons believes it will be a "massive boost" for the sport in the county should his side manage to overcome Laois in Round 1A of the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday.

"While we were disappointed with the outcome of our Ulster Championship game against Fermanagh, I honestly believe that if we can put in a good performance, we can beat Laois," insisted Fitzsimons.

"I think that such a result would be a massive boost for the county at this point in time. Laois are physically strong with a lot of experienced players and they will be very tough opponents."

Antrim must face the midlands side without Sean McVeigh, who is suspended, but there is a strong chance that CJ McGourty and Jack Dowling will force themselves into the starting line-up.

Laois may have imploded in the second half at O'Connor Park, Tullamore against Kildare at the weekend - they lost by 3-18 to 1-11 - but they have a quota of experienced players including John O'Loughlin and Brendan Quigley at midfield as well as quality forwards in Donie Kingston and Ross Munnelly.

Down manager Jim McCorry, meanwhile, is pragmatic as he prepares to face Wexford in Round 1B of the qualifiers on Saturday week. Wexford lost by 1-21 to 0-15 to Westmeath yesterday, meaning that they must now seek solace through the back door at the expense of the Mourne County.

Down are not certain yet if Conaill McGovern, who was sent off against Derry, will be available.

McCorry said: "We re-grouped straight away after the Derry game. We hoped that we might get a home draw for a change because we seem to be travelling an awful lot these days.

"Yet our results on the road have been good. I thought our performance against Derry was encouraging and we might have got a result with a little luck."

Armagh face a tricky assignment against Wicklow, also on Saturday week. Wicklow lost to Meath in the Leinster series by 2-19 to 3-12 but the fact that they scored three goals will surely provide Orchard County manager Kieran McGeeney with food for thought as he strives to re-build morale following that shattering loss against Donegal yesterday.

Conor McGraynor scored two goals from for Wicklow yesterday while Paul Cronin got their other goal.

Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has turned to his fledgling Under-21 squad in a bid to bolster his options for Saturday week's all-important All-Ireland qualifying match against Limerick.

Lee Brennan and Conor Meyler have been brought in after putting in some fine performances at club level.

Brennan scored 1-10 for Trillick in their Tyrone championship victory over Dungannon Clarkes while Meyler was man of the match for reigning county champions Omagh St Enda's in their win over Carrickmore.

Belfast Telegraph

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