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Fitzsimmons urges Antrim to learn their lesson after suffering trophy heartache

Antrim 1-14 - Louth3-12

By John Campbell

Learning the hard way is one of life's difficult experiences. An Antrim team that had undertaken a largely serene journey to promotion discovered in striving to put the icing on the cake by capturing the Allianz League Division Four trophy against Louth that they had left the back door unlocked and became victims of a smash and grab raid.

And in conceding more goals than in their last seven ties, the Saffrons were reminded that their defence has a case to answer. Manager Frank Fitzsimmons makes no bones about the need for action as the Ulster Championship preliminary tie against Fermanagh looms.

"We did not defend well and the boys know that themselves," reflected Fitzsimmons. "It would have been easy for us to offer a massed defence. But we had no intention of doing that. Yet we have to absorb lessons and recognise that we have work to do."

An exquisite Matthew Fitzpatrick goal in the 30th minute had cancelled out Derek Maguire's effort for Louth e and when the Saffrons led by 1-9 to 1-5 at the break, the force was with them.

But it was to desert them in the third quarter when Louth slipped into the driving seat.

It was man of the match James McEnaney who tucked away Louth's second major score to hoist them into the lead at 2-9 to 1-11.

And when Conor Grimes somehow managed to plunder a third Louth goal in the 71st minute, Antrim's goose was cooked.

Statistics unveiled a depressing narrative - Antrim conceded 2-7 in the second-half, landed just five points in that spell with only three coming from play and were held scoreless from the 38th to the 60th minute.

"The glass is very much still half-full," added Fitzsimmons. "It's a case of noses to the grindstone."

Louth: C Lynch; P Rath, P Reilly, K Toner; D Maguire (1-1), D McMahon, E Lafferty; J Stewart, J Califf (0-3, 2f); D Byrne (0-3), J McEneaney (1-1l), T Durnin; C McKeever, C Grimes (1-0), R Burns (0-4, 3f). Subs: J Bingham for Toner (12), A Williams for Bingham (35), R Moore for McMahon (43), G McSorley for J McEneaney (72). Yellow: Byrne (30), Williams (54), Stewart (63). Black card: Bingham (35).

Antrim: C Kerr; N Delargy, C Burke, R Johnson (0-1); K O'Boyle, M Johnson, J Laverty; N McKeever, J Carron; M Fitzpatrick (1-1), K Niblock, C Murray (0-2); B Neeson (0-1), M McCann, T McCann (0-8, 6f). Subs: R Murray for Neeson, P McBride (0-1) for Carron, D McAleese for Fitzpatrick, M Sweeney for Laverty, J Crozier for Burke. Yellow: Delargy (47), Burke (50).

Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo).

Belfast Telegraph


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