Antrim hoping for an Offaly different result

By Michael McMullan

THIS time last year, Antrim were left scratching their heads as to how they didn’t get at least a draw from their opening league game, the visit of this weekend’s opponents Offaly.

The Saffrons had enough goal chances to take the spoils and went on to have a league campaign of near misses before a home win over Cavan turned their season.

It’s Offaly on Sunday at Corrigan Park and the Faithful County will travel north hoping to bounce back from a home defeat at the hands of Westmeath. Five points from Cian Farrell wasn’t enough in a 1-11 to 0-10 defeat.

Antrim have Andy McEntee back at the helm and began their league campaign with victory over Limerick.

After a spin all the way to Rathkeale, Dominic McEnhill’s goal had them on their way to a 1-7 to 0-4 lead by half-time,

The home side, despite being depleted, were back in the game and within a point thanks to an Iain Corbett goal. Was it going to be an Antrim collapse?

Not this time, Ruairi McCann’s goal had the Saffron County back on track. McEntee will be hoping the confidence of a win after a battle on the road will help his side turn the corner.

With Down, Sligo and Westmeath all to come, two points would be a welcome boost going into the break.

Antrim must tap into the shoots of hope from last season. With more composure and improved decision-making they could’ve been in a Tailteann Cup final.

A winter of strength and conditioning will have helped young players called into the fold last season.

Benen Kelly, Conhuir Johnston and Oisin Doherty represent the new swathe of players. In Michael Byrne, they’ve an accomplished goalkeeper. Dermot McAleese and Peter Healy provide the leadership.

That said, there is nothing that helps momentum like winning games. Before a ball was kicked, Healy was talking about Antrim targeting a promotion charge. If they can overturn last season’s defeat to Offaly in Sunday’s rematch, it will leave them with plenty more to build on.

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