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Corrigan Park gets the green light to host Qualifier clash

Declan Lynch in action against London at Corrigan Park in the League. The Whiterock venue has been given the green light to host next Saturday's All-Ireland Qualifier against Kildare Declan Lynch in action against London at Corrigan Park in the League. The Whiterock venue has been given the green light to host next Saturday's All-Ireland Qualifier against Kildare
By Staff Reporter

THE GAA have confirmed that Corrigan Park will host the second round Qualifier meeting between Antrim and Kildare on Saturday, June 22.

The Saffrons had been drawn out first for Monday’s draw and would have been a designated ‘home’ county in any case owing to their Division Four status.

However, there were fears that Antrim would, once again, have to relinquish home advantage for the meeting with the Lilywhites.

With Casement Park closed for the foreseeable and Corrigan Park deemed insufficient, Antrim were forced to play their Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final against Tyrone in the Athletic Grounds last month.

There was speculation that Antrim would either play in Armagh city again or form part of a double-header with Down’s Qualifier meeting with Mayo in Newry’s Páirc Esler.

Yet, perhaps buoyed by their opponent’s ‘Newbridge or nowhere’ campaign last year, when they successfully lobbied to have St Conleth’s Park used for their Qualifier clash with Mayo, Antrim have argued the case for Corrigan Park.

Following an inspection of the Whiterock Road venue on Wednesday morning, a site safety certificate was issued by the Belfast City Council and Croke Park gave Antrim the go ahead to host the game.

It will be the first time Antrim had hosted a home tie in the Championship since 2016’s round one defeat to Limerick at the West Belfast ground.

The home of St John’s is limited to just over 2,000 spectators so the game is an all-ticket affair.

Tickets will not be available on the day and are already on sale from GAA.ie and Centra and Supervalu stores. Clubs wishing to purchase tickets can do so via the Antrim GAA office.

Antrim captain, Declan Lynch meanwhile, says last Saturday’s victory against Louth was relief more than anything.

The Saffrons fought back from 1-5 to 0-2 down after a quarter of an hour to claim their first Championship win in four years at the Gaelic Grounds. 

The victory was Lynch’s first as captain and manager Lenny Harbinson’s first as manager and the Lámh Dhearg clubman revealed that he urged his teammates to forget about past defeats in the Saffron jersey.

“It was great; it was more relief than anything,” admits Lynch.

“The hard work from October and November has paid off and it made it all the sweeter.

“The boys had said it was the first Championship win in four years but what I told the lads was: it’s a new team, it’s a new panel and it’s our first win out of one as a new panel in the qualifiers.

“I don’t want to look at past times – it’s done. It’s a fresh panel, we’ve went into the qualifiers once and came out with a win.”

Lynch paid tribute to his side’s character and bravery and at six points down, was still under the impression that they would turn the game around.

“We’re trying to build something and we’ve shown massive character and bravery in the panel,” acknowledged Lynch.

“The way it’s went this year, it probably would have been easy for more boys to walk off the panel and leave it. Everyone can have an excuse but we dug in today.

“Louth’s first goal was a mistake but Padraig (Nugent) showed good courage after that and played an even braver kick-out that got us up the pitch and actually resulted in us getting a score, so it’s great confidence there.

“We knew, even when we went six down we actually knew we had it in us.

“We played rightly in stages against Tyrone but still weren’t happy with our performance then. We dug in and knew we had it in us.

“We weren’t going to give up that easy after training all year.  We weren’t going to let the fans and ourselves down.”

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