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Skipper Niblock urging Saffrons to exercise caution

By John Campbell

Antrim skipper Kevin Niblock tends to tread carefully when he hears the 'buzz' word mentioned in the county.

As his team prepare to face Fermanagh in the Ulster Senior Football Championship preliminary round tie on Sunday week, Niblock is adopting a softly, softly approach with the focus firmly switched to transferring league form to the much more demanding Championship arena.

"It's alright saying there is a good buzz within the county now but I would much prefer to wait until a couple of months have passed and then be able to look back and reflect on something that had been achieved," insisted Niblock. "Maybe I am being a bit negative but the fact is that Fermanagh beat us twice in the Championship last year and did very well in the league this year.

"We conceded three goals to Louth in the recent Allianz League Division Four final and we know that even if we manage to get over Fermanagh this time, Donegal would be waiting at the quarter-final stage. It's better if we keep our feet on the ground."

Niblock recognises that the Ernesiders will go into the match as firm favourites given that they have home advantage and performed at a higher tier in the league than Antrim.

In drawing with Galway and Tyrone in their last two matches, Fermanagh are viewed as having laid down a marker for the Ulster Championship - something that Niblock, an All-Ireland club winner with St Gall's a few years ago, is quick to acknowledge.

"We know we are going to have to play to our full potential if we are to get anywhere against Fermanagh," he admitted. "We have looked at the three goals we gave away against Louth on video a number of times since then to see where things went wrong and we think we have identified our shortcomings.

"A lot of the damage came from deep because we did not track runners or pick up players in danger areas. That's something we have to deal with - indeed, we have been working on it in order to get things right."

Niblock has been a creative force in the Saffrons attack this term and with Michael McCann also playing a more deep-lying role, space is being left for players like Tomas McCann and Matthew Fitzpatrick to exploit their explosive pace.

"In Croke Park systems sometimes can become vulnerable but in Brewster Park we would like to think we can play a tighter game," added Niblock.

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