By Michael McMullan
ANTRIM could very easily have been taking a 100 per cent record into Saturday’s visit (2pm) of Fermanagh to Corrigan Park.
The Saffrons kicked away enough chances to win two games in their opener against Offaly before being hit by a Down comeback in a Páirc Esler cracker.
There was the added bombshell of an injury to Dermot McAleese, one of their driving forces coming from defence.
It’s a long way to Tipperary, as the song says, and Andy McEntee oversaw Antrim’s first win under his watch on Saturday evening with a formidable 1-19 tally thrown in for good measure.
This came after leaving some chances behind them in the fourth quarter when the result was already beyond doubt.
Conor Stewart hit the net, Marc Jordan notched three points with Pat Shivers helping lead an attack that included the two Ruairi McCanns – the Creggan and Aghagallon models.
Once the dust settled, McEntee will realise that Antrim’s survival in Division Three has plenty of obstacles in their path. There are trips to Westmeath and Longford on the horizon. Cavan will also come to town.
First up is Fermanagh who will be upbeat after Sunday’s win over Down. Darragh McGurn stepped up to the plate. Along with Sean Quigley, it will prove the puzzle McEntee will need to crack in defence.
Michael Byrne has cemented his place at the number one with five straight starts under McEntee and has chipped in four points.
At midfield, it’s a huge afternoon for the Conor Stewart and Kevin Small partnership against a Fermanagh midfield third that were ravenous on the breaking ball on Sunday in Ederney.
In attack, Antrim need to get the McCanns and Shivers firing, with the management possibly pondering over starting spots for top scorer Dominic McEnhill and Odhran Eastwood.
Antrim were 1-14 to 0-7 winners when the counties met last season but Kieran Donnelly’s men will travel with a spring in their step after Sunday’s win.