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No 'selfish' approach as Harbinson gears up for Down clash


By John Campbell

Antrim football manager Lenny Harbinson is concerned about venturing into "selfish" territory as he steps up preparations for his team's forthcoming Ulster Championship clash with Down.

As things stand, county boards have been left to their own devices to do what suits them best in terms of club itineraries.

The Saffrons squad members will participate in two rounds of club league fixtures this month while Harbinson continues to monitor their progress and oversee proper rest and recovery periods.

But he is conscious that while April has been designated a 'club only' month in terms of on-field action, he must nonetheless ensure that his players keep a strong focus on their assignment at Páirc Esler, Newry on May 20.

There are also league games arranged in Antrim for early May and it remains to be seen which, if any, county players are involved in those.

As well as maintaining surveillance on those players who are getting back to full fitness following injuries and undertaking ongoing checks on all players after club matches have been played, the meticulous Harbinson is anxious to ensure that the spirit within his panel remains positive.

"We have to remember that we had been strongly in the frame for promotion from Division Four until we drew with Wicklow and then fell to Carlow," said Harbinson.

"We had been going well up until then both in terms of our results and the absence of any real injury concerns, but we were overtaken by disappointments in the closing rounds of the league."

Harbinson currently has concerns about experienced midfield ace Niall McKeever who is still troubled by a hamstring problem, while Patrick McBride is another player who succumbed to illness as the league ebbed to a close.

"Obviously when you are going into the Ulster Championship you want to have your best players available," pointed out Harbinson.

"We as a management team don't want to be considered selfish or looking after our own interests in terms of monitoring players while they are with their clubs but it's very important that we remain fully aware of what is happening."

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