Antrim can move up in world: Bradley
Antrim manager Liam Bradley would relish winning the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup trophy - but he would be even more pleased if his side were to end up celebrating promotion to Division One of the National Football League.
This being the case, Bradley plans to give as many members of his squad as possible game time in the January competition as a prelude to the league action which gets under way on the first week-end in February.
The Saffrons have achieved promotion in each of the past two seasons — in 2009 they were wallowing in Division Four but today they are anticipating matches against sides such as Kildare, Meath, Sligo and Donegal in Division Two.
And Bradley is in no doubt just where his priorities lie.
“Our aim will be to try to make it three promotions on the trot – that would be quite something. We have a good squad of players and if we can hit the ground running in the New Year you just never know what might happen,” says Bradley.
Antrim open their campaign on Sunday week against Armagh at Crossmaglen and not surprisingly Bradley feels this will be an early test of his team’s mettle.
“Not too many visiting teams win in Crossmaglen but we are looking forward to taking on Armagh. It’s important that we get a bit of momentum going,” says Bradley, father of Derry stars Eoin and Paddy.
Antrim chairman Jim Murray has called on everyone in the county to get behind the team as they bid to maintain their recent excellent form in the National League.
Murray, who has lost no time in making an impact in the top office, said: “Obviously Liam and the players will be taking the McKenna Cup very seriously but you would have to say that we are very keen to do well in the National League.
“Maybe a few seasons ago not all sides took the league very seriously but that is certainly not the case now.
“All teams are very anxious to make an impact in the competition.”
With the Antrim hurlers now guaranteed a place in the Leinster championship until 2013, Murray is anxious to see the county teams in both codes make further progress.
Murray stated: “I think Antrim’s image has been lifted over the past couple of years but there is certainly a lot still to be done.
“With co-operation and commitment much more progress can be achieved.”
Antrim of course are assured of a place in the Ulster hurling final but it’s in the tough Leinster championship that their pedigree will really come under the microscope.