Saffrons boss calls for improvement

By Niall Gartland

WITH zero points on the board after three rounds of action, Antrim boss Emma Kelly describes Sunday’s Division Three clash against neighbours Down as a ‘do or die’ clash for her team.

Kelly is already worrying about the possibility of relegation to the bottom tier after their latest defeat, a desperately disappointing defeat to Wexford last weekend.

It looked like the Saffrons were on course for victory but they were rocked by the concession of a late sucker-punch goal in a low scoring 1-3 to 0-5 defeat.

Antrim ladies football was on a real high heading into this season following last year’s promotion from Division Four followed up by success in the Ulster Intermediate Championship.

However, a whole host of key names have decided to take a year out, thinning out the squad big-time and it looks like their stay in Division Three could be a short one, if they dont start picking up some positive results – and fast.

Kelly commented: “The Down match is basically a do-or-die game for us. We have Down and Sligo in the coming weeks and we really need to win both of those matches as after that we have Clare and Roscommon and they’re sitting top of the table.

“On any given day we believe we can beat anybody in the division if we put in a shift but realistically it’s going to be difficult to go on a winning run if don’t don’t beat Down on Sunday.”

A lack of composure on the home straight proved to be Antrim’s downfall in their one-point defeat to Wexford. Kelly pins it down to a lack of squad depth and experience, but it’s still a massive source of frustration no matter about the reasons behind it.

“We’ve been control in all our games and we just can’t see them out. They seem to go into panic mode, they constantly chase the next score, instead of calming things down and holding onto possession. It’s like they’re afraid of conceding a goal but if you keep hold of the ball the other team can’t damage you.

“We just seem to lack that bit of leadership and calmness and squad depth has become a major problem. We were only able to travel with 17 players at the weekend. This was supposed to be a development year for girls of minor age but we’ve had no choice but to throw them into the deep end.”

Kelly was also aggrieved with the decision to send off one of their star players, Theresa Mellon, midway through the first half. She thought the decision itself was fair enough but that Mellon wouldn’t have lashed out in the first place had the game been, in Kelly’s opinion, refereed more fairly.

“We were getting ticked right, left and centre. Theresa has never been sent off in her life but she was obviously frustrated and lashed out after she was fouled. Yes she deserved the red but the other girl should’ve got a yellow for the tackle that caused the incident in the first place. We ended up down to 13 players for the last five minutes because Lara Dahunsi was sin binned as well, and I’m asking myself why did some of their girls not get sinbinned for some of their tackles as well?”

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