By Michael McMullan
IN different circumstances, Antrim could easily have been making the journey to Páirc Esler this weekend (Saturday 6pm) in search of back-to-back wins.
The Saffrons tailed Offaly by eight points before a late fightback got them back into a position to win the game only for missed chances and a second Offaly goal ending their hopes in a 2-12 to 0-12 defeat.
They face a resurgent Down sign who have lost one game – on penalties to Derry – under new manager Conor Laverty’s watch.
“That is the great thing about the league, you can sit back and lick your wounds or you can get ready for next week,” manager Andy McEntee said of his side’s next outing.
“I suggest we get ready for next week because it is going to come one way or another. You have to play them at some stage, so lets’ get on with it. I would like to think we are not afraid to go and play anybody.”
McEntee was impressed by the fitness levels of his squad and commended them on their ability to battle their way back.
“They (Offaly) got two half chances and they got two goals and I think we got three or four good chances and got none,” he said.
“We were talking shots for points that weren’t really percentage shots, even without the goal chances when there was just three points in it.
“It could’ve been level very easily if we had the right fellas taking the right shots from the right areas we could’ve definitely been level.
“We were right in it and you could see the strength of the wind. We were right there, but we didn’t get the scoreboard working early enough and on a regular enough basis.”
Sunday’s defeat to Offaly was a first outing for defensive trio Declan Lynch, James McAuley and captain Peter Healy, while Kevin Small and Ruairi McCann (Aghagallon) only game on at half-time.
“There are a lot of guys that didn’t get the pre-season we would’ve liked,” McEntee admitted. “We had enough out there to get enough out of the game, but we didn’t.
“We need a better level of execution. The appetite and the application from the lads has been very good and that’s the disappointing thing. You put in the effort we put in (against Offaly) and not to get something,. It is disappointing for them.”