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Harbinson hoping Antrim's Healy can inspire UCD to Sigerson Cup triumph

 

By John Campbell

Life could hardly get much better for Antrim defender Peter Healy right now.

He's not only helped his county maintain their unbeaten run in Division Four of the Allianz Football League but he is also in line for a coveted Sigerson Cup medal.

Healy's impressive performances at the back in a UCD team which has defied all the odds to reach tomorrow's final against National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI) have helped to convince manager John Divilly that his players can now go all the way and succeed St Mary's University College as Third Level kingpins.

Healy's astute man-marking skills have surfaced strongly in Antrim's league wins to date over Leitrim and Waterford as well as in their draw against Wicklow last Sunday.

The county's unbeaten run will send them into the second phase of the competition as short-odds favourites to make the jump into Division Three.

But with his side due to face a strong London outfit on Sunday week before potentially tricky assignments against Carlow, Laois and Limerick, Antrim manager Lenny Harbinson is taking nothing for granted.

"We are happy to be in the position we are at the moment but there are difficult challenges ahead, beginning with our next match against London, who have been catching the eye of late," reflected Harbinson.

"I am pleased enough with the displays of my team and obviously we have seen some people turn in fine individual performances.

"It's encouraging to see Peter Healy now in line for a Sigerson Cup medal as he is a very consistent player who gives a great example to others."

In Wednesday night's Sigerson Cup semi-final win over UUJ, UCD boss Divilly tasked Healy with the brief of containing Tyrone's Lee Brennan who has been on fire both at university and county level lately.

Brennan managed to get just one point from play with the modest and unassuming Healy having every reason to feel pleased with his own efforts.

Now, though, he will come up against a strong NUI attack in tomorrow's Sigerson decider at Santry, Dublin.

Indeed, Healy could find himself pitted against Galway and NUI captain Damien Comer, currently one of the hottest forwards on the island.

Comer has been to the fore in Galway's three-match unbeaten run in Division One of the Allianz League and looks set to pose problems for the UCD defence.

NUI have not triumphed in the Sigerson Cup final since 2003 while UCD last won the trophy in 2016.

Meanwhile, the overlap in competitions has reached a new level for such an early stage of the year precipitated to some extent by the recent weather.

Normally it is in March that a cluster of competitions jostle for the oxygen of publicity but this time round it would appear that the fixtures itinerary is already overcrowded even though the season is still in its infancy.

This weekend, the Dr McKenna Cup final, the All-Ireland Club football semi-final between Corofin and Moorefield and last weekend's postponed football and hurling league ties are all down for decision, along with the Sigerson Cup final.

The glut of fixtures has already drawn criticism from some quarters, particularly as this weekend had initially been deemed to be free of Allianz League football thus allowing counties some degree of respite in an already crowded schedule.

Belfast Telegraph

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