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Antrim's Tony Scullion keen to rekindle spirit of 2009

By John Campbell

Long-serving Antrim defender Tony Scullion believes his team can take inspiration from one of the most memorable matches in the county's history as they prepare to face Limerick in the All-Ireland football qualifiers on Saturday.

Just six days after losing the 2009 Ulster final to Tyrone, Antrim found themselves pitted as no-hopers against a star-studded Kerry side at O'Connor Park, Tullamore.

But despite their exertions against the Red Hands, Antrim discovered latent reserves of stamina and character to push Kerry all the way.

In the end, the Kingdom won by a point and now Scullion, who scored a goal in that game, suggests that a repetition of the spirit and commitment which highlighted Antrim's performance will serve them well against Limerick.

"This is a big task for us but there is a good bond within the side," insists Scullion.

"Liam Bradley was in charge in 2009 and he's at the helm again now and he knows how to lift the team. Limerick will feel that playing at home will help them but even though we face a four and a half hour journey, we are not unduly concerned because we have faith in our own ability."

Antrim's prospects, though, may not be helped by the fact that Ronan McGrady and Ryan Murray are unavailable because of pre-booked holidays while it is understood that James Laverty and Conor Murray are due to return from their travels.

It's not perhaps the ideal build-up but Scullion is adamant that Antrim are keen to prove themselves in the qualifiers.

"We were very pleased to get that win over Fermanagh but we fell away badly in the second-half against Donegal and we want to make up for that," he added.

"We have been training hard and the boys believe that they have it in them," adds Scullion.

Manager Bradley, though, will surely have concerns about the defensive lapses that allowed Donegal to overrun his side in the second-half.

The teams were level at 0-7 by half-time but Antrim conceded 3-9 after the break.

"We need to be getting more scores and be more vigilant at the back. Limerick have a couple of useful forwards who could punish us," states Scullion.

"We have good finishers ourselves, though, and we will have to ensure that they see enough of the ball."

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