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Gearoid Adams warns Antrim not to get card happy

By John Campbell

Antrim joint manager Gearoid Adams is urging his players to be on their best behaviour in both the Ulster and All-Ireland championships.

Adams pulled no punches in laying it on the line to his squad as they prepare to lock horns with Fermanagh in the opening game of the provincial series on Sunday.

"The fact of the matter is that if a player incurs a black or red card then he has to come off and that can certainly affect the cohesion of the side," said Adams.

"Also, a player being dismissed runs the risk of not getting a game for some time as the player who takes his place has the chance to seize his opportunity. And if such a player does not merit a game, he runs the risk of losing his place altogether."

Adams, who wore the county jersey for a decade, is conscious that Antrim sides have imploded in the past, self-inflicted wounds hastening their exit from knock-out competitions in particular.

While the current side is physical and muscular, they have remained within the legal parameters and Adams is keen to make doubly sure that this pertains for the championship series.

"Let's be clear about this. Positions in this Antrim team now have to be fought for," he said.

"Maybe it was not always like that but, while everything is friendly and the spirit within the side is good, when it comes to stepping up to the mark in the quest for starting positions players will tear each other's head off."

"We simply cannot afford to suffer disciplinary transgressions, though, because they could potentially take a toll on us."

While clearly pleased that his team will be playing their football in Division Three next year, the pragmatic Adams added: "We still have a good bit of catch-up to undertake if we want to maybe get into Division Two, but that will be a story for next year's league.

"Right now we are going back to a ground on which we had a fine win in 2014 when we were given little chance by the pundits and there is a belief within the squad that we can repeat that result."

Fermanagh's progress in the league and their surge into last year's All-Ireland quarter-finals have impressed Adams considerably.

"Fermanagh had a very good league, they are in confident mood and I think we are in for a great game on Sunday," he said.

Antrim: C Kerr; K O'Boyle, R Johnston, N Delargy; P McBride, M Johnston, J Laverty; N McKeever, C Murray; M Fitzpatrick, K Niblock, J Carron; B Neeson, T McCann, M McCann.

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