Depleted Antrim could turn to manager for nets again

By Michael McMullan

IN the words of Ralph McTell, it’s a long way from Clare to here, but it’s a journey Antrim hope is a fruitful one this weekend.

The Saffrons have one win to their name and face a relegation battle at the bottom of Division Three.

Their final two games are against Clare and Roscommon who are the front-runners for promotion.

After gaining promotion last season, Antrim began their new adventure with a depleted hand.

Cathy Carey called time on her career. Scoring ace Órlaith Prenter went travelling and manager Emma Kelly was left to plan without 10 starters.

Theresa Mellon missed the last two games after being sent off against Wexford.

Mellon will be available for this weekend with Aine Sheehan due back from an ankle injury.

Duana Coleman picked up a shoulder injured on duty for QUB while Laura Agnew’s knee injury has kept her out.

Grace Shannon broke her foot while Saoirse Tennyson is only on her way back after a knee injury last season. An injury to goalkeeper Shauna Murphy saw manager Kelly come out of retirement to wear the number one jersey in win over Sligo.

“I did offer to see if anyone wanted to take one for the team and they all looked at me, so it was a no,” joked Kelly who could continue between the posts this weekend with Murphy awaiting results from an MRI.

A glance at the league table would wrongly suggest Antrim are out of their depth. Dig a bit deeper and results point to their competitiveness despite operating with a skeleton squad.

“The Down game as the only time were we weren’t ahead at any point in the match,” Kelly pointed out.

The Saffrons were well placed until the final five minutes against Offaly and Louth.

“In the Wexford game, we were ahead the whole time even when we had the player sent off after 20 minutes,” said Kelly who hopes their win over Sligo wasn’t too little, too late.

Antrim didn’t perform against Down but the boss feels they’ve been undone in their other games from a mix of tired legs with so many players gone from the squad and some inexperience.

“In Division Three, we have not looked out of place but we don’t have the results on the board,” she said.

This weekend is a tough test against a Clare team who have been a tougher nut to crack at home that on the road.

“It is 15 against 15 and if our girls want it enough they can put in a performance,” Kelly said of Sunday’s game.

“We could get results against Clare and Roscommon and it might still not be good enough depending on other results. It is up to us to do what we can do.

“At the minute, we have let ourselves down by not getting results and can blame nobody but ourselves. That’s the way it is but it is not out of reach.”

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