Brown: A chance for a fresh Saffron start

By Michael McMullan

ANTRIM are looking at their Ulster Intermediate Championship clash with Down as a chance for a fresh start.

That’s the take of captain Ciara Brown ahead of Sunday’s semi-final in Glenavy after a disappointing league campaign.

The Saffrons were relegated back to Division Four after a campaign that yielded a victory over Sligo among a disappointing set of results.

To give their season context, they were without 15 players from last year’s squad for various reasons but were still competitive for long periods of games. Among the absentees are ace attacker Órlaith Prenter and retired legend Cathy Carey.

“I was extremely disappointed,” Brown said of slipping back down. “I think especially for the group of girls that were there last year.”

From the high of eventually breaking out of the bottom division, there is the disappointment of expecting more of themselves this year.

“Then, every time, we got knocked back so we were like ‘we’ll leave it there,’” Brown added.

“We’re going into the championship with a fresh start and clear heads and hopefully do a bit better in the championship run.”

Antrim had a six-week break since their final league game with Roscommon and Brown feels it’s been a welcome window to get their heads around the next phase of the season.

“We just needed time to wind down and refresh because getting relegated was obviously such a big knock to take,” Brown added.

“I feel like the break was good for us. We still trained and kept ticking over. We had a few breaks and then a few team bonding sessions in between.

“It was good to get the group back together and obviously make the bond a wee bit stronger between us too.”

Down stand in their way of a place in this year’s final as Antrim aim to defend the Intermediate title they won last year. It’s knock-out and that’s the time to put your best foot forward.

“We’ve played Down already in the league so we’ve already got kind of a picture of what they’re like and what way they play,” Brown said.

“I’m sure they do the same as us as well but I feel like when we did play them in the league we definitely didn’t perform as well as we could have performed.

“I have a lot of confidence in our girls now and a lot of respect for them to know that we took from the league and now we’re going to push on and use it in the championship.

“So I’m just hoping that we go out with a fire because if we go out with the determination that I know we have and that I know we can portray – that we didn’t in the league – then I feel like it’ll be a very good match.”

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