National Football League Division Four North
Antrim v Sligo
Sunday, Corrigan Park, 4pm
HOW Sligo’s stock has fallen.
New Antrim manager Enda McGinley was an unused substitute when the Connacht side stunned Tyrone in the 2002 All-Ireland quarter-final, and now look – they’re in Division Four and fighting for their self-respect as much as anything else.
Things have got so bad that the Yeats county actually finished third from bottom in Division Four last season, but the appointment of Tony McEntee was a major shot in the arm and they got up and running at the weekend with a 2-19 to 0-18 victory over Leitrim.
It wasn’t straightforward by any means, and it was only in the second half that they managed to get a foothold in the game. Curiously, it was the second-half performance that displeased their manager. After the game McEntee told the assembled media that “we executed the goal chances much better, but from a work rate and intensity perspective, I think it dropped from the first half.”
Not for the first time in his career, McEntee is set to come up against Enda McGinley (it was purely accidental, but McGinley suffered a broken vertebrae in a hefty collision with McEntee in the 2003 All-Ireland final between Armagh and Tyrone. Whelp).
McGinley’s Antrim career got off to the best possible start on Saturday as they claimed a 1-15 to 3-8 victory over Mickey Harte’s Louth. Both teams were understandably ring rusty, but McGinley was pleased that they showed composure at the critical stages – it looked like they were heading for defeat but a trademark effort from Paddy Cunningham, a point from Eunan Walsh and the final score of the game from Ryan Murray snatched a dramatic victory at the death.
Antrim fans will have been massively encouraged by the performance of 19-year-old debutant Conor Stewart in the middle of the park, while wing-backs Dermot McAleese and Marc Jordan were also impressive.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Sigo; they were desperately poor last season, but they had a wide range of scorers against Leitrim and their new manager Tony McEntee has brilliant credentials. Still, a hesitant nod for Antrim from us.