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Antrim manager Liam Bradley urges officials to look for advantage

By John Campbell

Antrim manager Liam Bradley pinpoints what he feels is one of the most frustrating elements of gaelic football right now as his team prepares for tonight's third round Power NI Dr McKenna Cup tie against Down at Pairc Esler, Newry.

Bradley is convinced that proper application of the advantage rule, which has only recently been more clearly defined following a recommendation from the Football Review Committee, would go some way towards negating the virtual paranoia currently surrounding the introduction of the black card disciplinary measure.

Having watched his side concede to UUJ because of what he feels was an unnecessary decision by referee Kieran Trainer to stop the game after he had awarded Antrim a free-kick, Bradley is urging that teams going forward should be afforded "every advantage."

The Glenullin man, who is keen to see his team strengthened for the Allianz League by the return of Niall McKeever, Colm Duffin and Ryan Murray from university duty, believes that a practical implementation of the advantage rule by referees could do a lot towards eradicating cynical play.

"Let's face it, it suits some teams to commit fouls in certain areas of the field," points out Bradley.

"But when the team supposedly benefitting from the free tries to move the ball quickly, the game is stopped because the ball should have been two yards to the left or right. I believe the attacking team should be given every advantage."

Tonight, he will avail of the opportunity to assess more players, although it's likely that Kevin O'Boyle, Justin Crozier, Tony Scullion, Mark Sweeney, Paddy Cunningham and Brendan Neeson will remain in his line-up.

Michael McCann and CJ McGourty picked up knocks against UUJ and are rated doubtful.

Down boss James McCartan was disappointed with his side's scoring return of just five points in the loss to Cavan on Sunday and will be expecting a more handsome dividend tonight.

He stressed: "The McKenna Cup for us is about finding a player or two. There have been opportunities to date for guys and there will be more opportunities tonight."

Brendan Coulter and Liam Doyle were introduced as substitutes against Cavan, against whom Niall Madine, Conleth O'Hare, Peter Fitzpatrick and Ryan Boyle impressed.

Meanwhile, former Down All- Ireland winning manager Peter McGrath will be anxious to avoid a third successive defeat when his Fermanagh side confront Monaghan at Brewster Park.

McGrath placed the emphasis on defence against Derry on Sunday and his side showed admirable battling qualities in going under by 1-11 to 2-4.

Skipper Eoin Donnelly will be at the helm of a side that will again look to the Quigley brothers, Seamus and Sean, for scores.

Derry boss Brian McIver is keen that his side should not take their foot off the pedal when they host St Mary's tonight.

Gerard O'Kane is included in defence, Paudie McGuigan and Peter Cassidy form the midfield and Niall McFeely, Anthony O'Neill and Aaron Kerrigan get another chance up front.

DERRY: E McNicholl; G O'Kane, D McBride, D Brown; K Johnston, M Craig, J Kearney; P McGuigan, P Cassidy; N Holly, N McFeely, N McNicholl; A O'Neill, C McGoldrick, A Kerrigan.

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