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Antrim manager Liam Bradley optimistic as Saffrons begin promotion chase


©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Antrim manager Liam Bradley is prepared to leave no stone unturned as he focuses strongly on plotting his team's promotion drive.

Last weekend, accompanied by his son Paddy, who is the Saffrons' forward coach, Bradley travelled to see Leitrim, his team's first opponents in Division Four of the Allianz Football League tomorrow, retain their Connacht FBD League title at the expense of Roscommon.

Since the start of this month, new Leitrim manager Sean Hagan has infused a buoyant spirit within the side which was not only underlined in last Sunday's triumph but was also manifest in their earlier win over Galway.

Bradley has now been provided with plenty of food for thought as he ponders the onset of a league campaign which could have critical implications for Antrim.

"We want to get out of Division Four. That will be our priority. Teams can only challenge themselves by playing at a decent level and we know the importance of gaining promotion," maintains Bradley.

Judging from the team's performances in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup, Bradley has the players operating within a certain strategy but believes this will be further improved upon now that Niall McKeever, Ryan Murray and Brian Neeson are back in the squad.

In their most recent competitive match, Antrim looked sprightly in beating Down in the McKenna Cup at Newry (1-12 to 0-10).

Paddy Bradley believes that the team now boasts more fire-power in attack but is hoping that consistency will prove a keynote of the league campaign.

"There are good forwards in this Antrim set-up but it's important that the players take their chances when they come along. People maybe think that Division Four is not all that competitive but there are some decent sides in there and they could make life difficult for us if we are not on our toes," insists Paddy.

In seven league outings last year, Antrim won just once, their encouraging early start floundering on the back of three successive defeats that effectively put paid to their tenure in Division Three.

Manager Bradley insists that every possible step will be taken to ensure that such a collapse will be avoided this time round.

"I believe that we have the players who can take us back into Division Three but that will only be achieved if they fulfil their potential.

"There is a good level of experience within the side and I know that these boys want to do themselves proud in the Antrim jersey," states Bradley.

Belfast Telegraph