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We are in with a shout against Tyrone, insists Delargy


Underdogs: Niall Delargy knows Antrim face a stiff test
Underdogs: Niall Delargy knows Antrim face a stiff test
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Ten years ago, Antrim reached the Ulster Senior Football Championship final in which they were beaten by Tyrone.

Yet in losing to the Red Hands by 1-18 to 0-15, the Saffrons, then under the baton of Liam Bradley, unveiled courage and commitment in abundance before embellishing these qualities even further in a qualifier defeat to eventual All-Ireland champions Kerry (2-12 to 1-10).

Antrim's form of a decade ago rubbished the theory that they are a Cinderella county, a side destined to be bracketed as perennial also-rans.

And that's certainly a label that sits uncomfortably with the present squad as they prepare to put the finishing touches tonight to their preparations for the renewal of their Ulster Championship rivalry with Tyrone at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh tomorrow (6pm).

Niall Delargy is among the Antrim players who is imbued with a rampant desire to see the county's reputation enhanced and believes that this provincial quarter-final tie provides the perfect opportunity for Lenny Harbinson's team to cast themselves in a favourable light.

The Saffrons are still marooned in Division Four of the Allianz League, several players have left their squad, Conor Murray and Kevin O'Boyle are unavailable because of injury and their Championship record spanning the past decade has been anything but impressive, however Delargy believes that there are nonetheless plus-factors there to be built upon.

"We won our last two league games, although you would have to say that, overall, the competition was disappointing for us," admits key defender Delargy.

"We were maybe unfortunate in that we lost three games by a point and eventually finished third. But we decided that we would not wallow in sorrow."

Manager Harbinson blooded fresh players in the league and Delargy believes that the new-found fusion of youth and experience will carry a robust fight to a Tyrone side who are overwhelming favourites to book a semi-final place.

"We accept that we are the underdogs but we will be going in with hope in our hearts and a willingness to leave everything out there on the Athletic Grounds pitch," insists Delargy.

Having digested the three matches which have already taken place in the current Ulster series, Delargy is quick to point out that the favourites have not always been first past the post so far.

"When you look at how the games have gone to date, I think we have reason for taking encouragement from this," he added.

"I think we will be in with a shout."

Belfast Telegraph


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