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Antrim manager Dowds is expecting tough Mourne test

All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Round Two

Down v Antrim

Saturday, Ballycran, 2pm

ANTRIM take on Down on Saturday in a repeat of the 2022 Ulster final, which the Saffrons won by seven points thanks to a hat-trick of goals from Roisin McCormack.

Elaine Dowds’ team, who also reached the Division Two League final but lost to Wexford, carried that winning momentum into the All-Ireland series and earned a huge victory over Offaly in the opening round, but the manager is expecting a much tougher test in round two.

“We were nervous going into the game last weekend, the first time ever playing senior for this group of players.

“It’s hard to gauge where you’re at when you’re playing Division Two league so it’s really reassuring to know that we can compete at
this level, and I think the Offaly game will help to settle us in terms of going forward and playing other senior teams.

“It’s good to get rid of those nerves and when the girls settled last Saturday, there was some really lovely camogie, and they took the opportunity to show their ability.

“This week will be a whole other ball game for us. Down have competed well in the senior league and championship this year and last, they have all that senior experience to draw on and those types of games that really toughen you up.

“We know going into Saturday’s game that it’ll be played at a higher standard and that physically it’ll be tough.

“This is Championship and I expect both teams to throw everything at it. Down will be really hurting after
the Ulster final defeat a few weeks ago, I expect they’ll want some pay back.”

The sides know each other fairly well at this stage and home advantage could help Down gain revenge, but the Antrim boss isn’t concerned with where the game is played.

“We know each other inside and out at this stage, but in terms of preparation, we’re just continuing as normal, focus on what way we’d hopefully like to play and work on trying to improve upon a few things from the performance against Offaly, things that we weren’t entirely happy with,” Dowds said.

“Of course, home advantage is great for any team, bigger crowd, less travel time and familiarity with the venue but we’ve become very accustomed to travelling to so many
games over the last few years that I don’t think it’ll impact us
massively.

“We bring a few supporters with us too to away matches.”

Antrim only have one injury concern heading into the weekend, wing half-forward Christine Laverty, who picked up an injury against the Mourne ladies in the Ulster final four weeks ago.

“Christine Laverty is our only injury this week.

“She started against Down in the Ulster final so that’s a loss to us, but we’ve pretty much had injuries to deal with all year and whoever gets the call up to start always stands
up, giving a good account of themselves.”

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