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Southern-based Sweeney still giving his all for the Saffron cause

By John Campbell

MARK Sweeney is just one of several Dublin-based players who are currently strongly focused on seeing their Ulster counties achieve success in the All-Ireland football qualifiers.

Sweeney is targeting a starting place for Antrim against Limerick on Saturday, while Tomas Corrigan (Fermanagh) and Aidan Carr (Down), who are also domiciled in the southern capital, are equally keen to see action on the same day.

Corrigan is certain to line out against Wexford as Fermanagh bid to atone for their Ulster Championship lapse against Donegal, while Carr is striving to make the Down line-up for the home game against Longford.

Antrim manager Frank Fitzsimons hails the commitment of players like these who are prepared to log hundreds of miles on a weekly basis in order to assist their counties.

"These players show massive commitment. Mark Sweeney comes to every training session with Antrim and I know that all the guys, and there are many of them, from the other counties do exactly the same," said Fitzsimons.

"You see players walking away from squads, a number for rather flimsy reasons, but you don't hear too much about these boys who are prepared to put their shoulder to the wheel and make big personal sacrifices to help their counties.

"All players recognise that starting places cannot be taken for granted, but the fact that boys from so many counties in Ulster are prepared to do what it takes to play their part in helping their teams make progress says a lot for them."

Should Antrim, Down and Fermanagh succeed on Saturday, this would thrust them into the next round of the qualifiers and sustain a healthy Ulster interest in the All-Ireland series.

And both Andy Mallon and Ciaran McKeever, now both playing with Dublin clubs, can help Armagh reverse the result of last Saturday's All-Ireland qualifier when the sides meet again in a re-match on Saturday week then they will certainly have no objecting to continuing their travels for another spell.

Belfast Telegraph

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