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McBride issues rallying cry ahead of vital Leitrim clash

Paddy McBride, pictured in action against Wexford last Sunday, knows Antrim must defeat Leitrim this weekend if they are to have any chance of gaining promotion from Division Four Paddy McBride, pictured in action against Wexford last Sunday, knows Antrim must defeat Leitrim this weekend if they are to have any chance of gaining promotion from Division Four
By Paddy Tierney

Gaelic Games: Allianz Football League Division Four
Leitrim v Antrim (Sunday, 2pm, Carrick-on-Shannon)

THE permutations for Antrim, even at this early stage, are simple. Defeat Leitrim at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada on Sunday or be condemned to another season in League football’s fourth tier.

Even a draw is unlikely to be enough to drag the Saffrons back into the promotion picture.

Back-to-back defeats to Derry and Wexford sees Antrim pointless and at the foot of the table with Waterford and London.

In contrast, their opponents have made a stunning start under former Cavan boss Terry Hyland.

They caused an upset in their opening game by thumping Wexford by 11 points, but they proved it was no fluke by following it up with a four-point victory in Aughrim against Wicklow last Sunday.

The Model County put Antrim to the sword last Sunday thanks to a brilliant Daithi Waters goal in the second half which gave his side a 1-10 to 0-9 victory and McBride says the Saffrons can have no qualms about the outcome.

“I think we had a good enough performance against Derry and we aimed for that again against Wexford,” stated McBride.

“We were playing against a strong wind, but we attacked better than we did against Derry.

“We created more scoring opportunities. Instead of going in 0-6 to 0-1 down, we went in at 0-5 each. We came out in the second half and we expected to push on and get the win.

“They scored a wonder goal – one of their midfielders smacked one from about 21-yards and it flew into the top corner of the net. They just played keep-ball after that. They played smart football and we just made too many mistakes.

“We can’t complain about the result – our performance wasn’t good enough to win any game.”

With the way the fixtures panned out, there was always a danger that Antrim would get their campaign off to a slow start. Derry and Wexford plied their trade in Division Three last season and, as such, were installed as promotion favourites at the start of the campaign.

While Antrim will be hoping to get off the mark at the third attempt, Leitrim will be aiming to record a third successive win to maintain their advantage over Derry and Limerick, who have also won their opening two games.

Leitrim have been the proverbial also-rans in the basement division in recent seasons.

When the sides met in last year’s campaign, Antrim claimed an emphatic 10-point win in Corrigan Park, but they are unlikely to have such a comfortable afternoon this time around.

“Leitrim beating Wexford was probably a good enough result and it keeps teams taking points off each other,” said McBride.

“We had a convincing enough win over Leitrim last year and we also beat them a few years ago. When you look at their recent results, it is clear they’ve really improved under Terry Hyland.

“We need to get our act together and work a lot harder and make better decisions during games.”

Should Antrim claim a result in Carrick-on-Shannon, their promotion prospects will be boosted by the return of their Naomh Éanna contingent in the coming weeks.

Yet, it will all be irrelevant if they don’t win against Leitrim. The margin for error is gone. It is now win or bust for Antrim.

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