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Harbinson will put his faith in new faces to make impact

 

Shuffling pack: Antrim boss Lenny Harbinson
Shuffling pack: Antrim boss Lenny Harbinson
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Antrim football manager Lenny Harbinson is preparing to assess a raft of new faces when his side take on Fermanagh in the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup at Ahoghill on Sunday (2.00pm).

Harbinson has had to come to terms that players such as Matthew Fitzpatrick, Paddy McCormack and Ryan Murray are no longer available to him, but the fact that a number of newcomers have shown what the manager describes as "great commitment" in training persuades him that his team can make an encouraging start to the season.

Bracketed along with Down and Fermanagh in Section B of the season's opening competition, Antrim will escape having to square up to Ulster's more traditional big guns for the moment.

And this should offer the side to gain a measure of self-confidence, something they appeared to lack in the Allianz League in particular last year when their form was erratic.

With seasoned duo Tomás McCann and Paddy Cunningham back in the fold, Harbinson believes they can deploy their experience in encouraging younger players to unleash their talent in the McKenna Cup as a precursor to possible involvement in the league.

"We are more than happy with the fact that people like Conor Small, Eamon Fyffe, Peter Healy, Ronan Delargy and Dermot McAleese are all on board and are showing great commitment in training," says Harbinson, "Obviously, like all teams, we want to start off on the right foot."

"With the university sides not participating in the McKenna Cup, you only get two bites at the cherry to make it into the semi-finals and this is something we would like to achieve."

But Harbinson is in no doubt as to what his team's primary aim in 2020 will be.

"We want to get out of Division Four. The league is our Championship, if you like" he insists.

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