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Frank Fitzsimmons is ready to shuffle his Antrim pack

By John Campbell

The Antrim management team of Frank Fitzsimons and Gearoid Adams face the task of trying to put a square peg into a round hole in a selection context as the build-up to Sunday week's Ulster Championship opener against Fermanagh intensifies.

Fitzsimons reveals that he has "at least 10 players" competing for the six forward berths in the side that will take on Peter McGrath's outfit.

But Fitzsimons has rapped out a warning to his forwards.

"This is one game in which we must take our chances," he said. "In the league we might have missed opportunities but we still managed to get promoted.

"It will be altogether different against Fermanagh because they have secured their position in Division Two and in their last two games they drew with Galway and Tyrone - no mean results by any standards. We have at least 10 forwards competing for places and that's encouraging."

It was in those games, too, that the Fermanagh attack looked extremely lively with Tomás Corrigan in particular underlining his class.

"Fermanagh have shown they have very good players up front and they will be a handful for us," admits Fitzsimons.

In the Division Four league final defeat to Louth at Croke Park, Ryan Murray, Patrick McBride, Dermot McAleese and Mark Sweeney were introduced from the bench and now they are targeting starting places against Fermanagh.

"Obviously everybody wants to be in from the outset" muses Fitzsimons. "We have boys like skipper Kevin Niblock, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tomás McCann who have been looking very sharp for us but we need the attack to function smoothly as a unit against Fermanagh."

Experienced defender Justin Crozier was also drafted in as a substitute against Louth and may be in from the start.

"This is a match in which we will need our experience to come to the fore. Let's say that the loss to Louth was part of our learning curve and now we have to prove ourselves against Fermanagh," adds Fitzsimons.

Belfast Telegraph


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