Antrim manager Dinny Cahill admits he is bewildered by his team’s recent penchant for taking their foot off the accelerator in important matches.
Against Wexford earlier this month, the Saffrons faded badly after the interval and then against Westmeath in the preliminary phase of the All Ireland Championship Qualifiers last Saturday they allowed their visitors to make a good fist of things after the break at which stage they had been in arrears by 2-16 to 1-9.
“We played in the first-half the way we played against Wexford. Lots of teams would not be able to stay with us when we play that kind of hurling but we had a lot of chances we did not take. We have to be more clinical,” observes Cahill.
Tomorrow Antrim meet Carlow knowing victory will take them a stage further along the All-Ireland route as well as bolstering morale for the Ulster final against Armagh on Sunday week.
The Saffrons beat Carlow in the Qualifiers last year (2-18 to 3-12) and also recorded a narrow one-point victory (0-10 to 1-6) over them in the National League in March.
With Neil McManus having landed 0-26 in the Leinster and All-Ireland championships to date and Conor McCann having more than justified the faith which manager Cahill has shown in him by grabbing 3-5, the Saffrons are certainly not short on scoring power.
But more rigid defensive measures are required if Carlow are to be kept at bay on this occasion.
Cormac Donnelly and Neil McAuley can again prove key figures in the Antrim rearguard in front of goalkeeper Chris O’Connell.
Carlow have sharp marksmen in Ruairi Dunbar, Richard Coady and Eoin Nolan all of whom are capable of punishing Antrim mistakes.
Antrim: C O'Connell; C McGuinness, C Donnelly, K McGourty; A Graffin M Herron, N McAuley, P Shiels, K Molloy; S McCrory, K Stewart, E McCloskey; C McCann, D Hamill, N McManus.