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Saffrons are in great shape for glory bid at Croker

By John Campbell

Antrim joint manager Frank Fitzsimons has paid a handsome tribute to what he feels is the "team behind the team" as his Saffrons squad prepare to lock horns with Louth in the Allianz Football League Division Four final at Croke Park.

"Our physios are proving just brilliant," said Lamh Dhearg clubman Fitzsimons.

"They have been getting guys back into action even sooner than we expected and this has been a tremendous boon in getting us into the league final. Now that we are this length, we naturally want to go all the way."

Fitzsimons had feared that key players such as Niall McKeever, Sean Burke, Justin Crozier and skipper Kevin Niblock might be forced to miss the closing stages of the league but their time spent on the treatment table is helping to reap dividends for the Saffrons.

Crozier has already returned to action with his club Cargin while Conor Burke is in line to fill the full-back berth.

With the Johnston brothers Marty and Ricky, former skipper Kevin O'Boyle and goalkeeper Chris Kerr to the fore defensively, Antrim have only conceded two goals in seven games. Niall Delargy is also in the running for starting place in the rearguard as Antrim prepare for a rare outing at Croke Park.

With players such as Patrick McBride, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Mark Sweeney and Dermot McAleese also targeting starting places, the work of Antrim's physios could leave Fitzsimons and his managerial partner Gearoid Adams with an embarrassment of riches for the trip to Croke Park.

"It's a problem we'll be happy to face," said Fitzsimons. "You want the competition for places to be fierce and that's the way it is. The spirit within the camp is unbelievable. I have never seen such a committed Antrim squad."

Belfast Telegraph

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