Liam Bradley’s Saffrons moving in for the Kil
Antrim manager Liam Bradley remained defiantly optimistic last night despite his team being drawn away to Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare in the All Ireland football qualifiers.
“Ideally we would have liked a home match but that’s out of our hands and our whole focus now is on getting ready for a tough enough game in Newbridge,” said Bradley.
“Our priority from the start of the year was to reach the All Ireland quarter-finals and that hasn’t changed.
“The most important thing from our perspective is that we go down there and play to our full potential. We didn’t do ourselves justice against Tyrone in the Ulster Championship and this is an opportunity for us to put that right.
“It won’t be easy but anything you get without a struggle or a fight isn’t worth it.”
Bradley has injury concerns over Sean Kelly, Paddy Cunningham and Andrew McClean, but with the game still a fortnight away he’s hopeful that all three will be fit to play.
Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke isn’t enjoying the best of luck for after having to face Derry in Celtic Park in an Ulster Championship preliminary round, he was then on the wrong end of a 12 points last eight beating at the hands of Monaghan in Casement Park.
Now the Orchard County men find themselves drawn against Donegal, the only consolation being that it’s a home game and they will be keen to play the tie in Crossmaglen.
“It’s as tough a draw as we could have got, but we just have to get on with it,” said the Armagh boss.
“The main thing is that the draw has been made and our whole focus can be Donegal in a fortnight’s time. Donegal will probably feel they should be in an Ulster semi-final so they will be highly motivated.
“There’s very little we don’t know about them and they don’t know about us at this stage,” he said. Derry, beaten by Armagh in the championship, always seem more at home in the qualifiers and a home game against Carlow might just kick start their championship season.
Cavan, beaten by Fermanagh in Breffni Park on Saturday night, have home advantage against Mick O’Dwyer’s Wicklow where victory for the Ulster side would almost certainly bring the curtain down on O’Dwyer’s legendary managerial career.
At one stage it seemed Dublin were on the verge of entering the qualifiers when they trailed Wexford by six points in the Leinster Championship only for them to turn things around in extra-time while Meath had to be content with a draw with Laois.
Meanwhile, there was good news for Tyrone after Enda McGinley returned to action with his club Errigal Ciaran.