By Shaun Casey
WINNING is a habit and it’s one that Antrim are determined to keep. That’s the message from half-back Dermot McAleese ahead of Sunday’s Tailteann Cup quarter-final (Corrigan Park 1pm).
Antrim are unbeaten in the second-tier competition having finished top of their group with wins over Leitrim, Wexford and Fermanagh, so confidence in the camp is high.
“When you’re winning, everything is good and there’s a good buzz about the place,” said McAleese.
“Three victories in a row, it’s probably been a while since we’ve done that. so definitely there’s a good confidence within the group. That’s something we’re going to try and feed off, winning is a habit and we’re going to try and keep that habit up.”
Andy McEntee’s men face the challenge of Carlow this weekend, a team they haven’t met in a while.
“It’s been a couple of years since we played them but in saying that, anytime we’ve played Carlow in the past it’s been nip and tuck,” added the Roger Casement’s defender.
“They’re always physical and you know you’re in a game when you play Carlow. They seem to have picked up a bit of form over the last couple of week’s as well, much like ourselves, the Tailteann Cup has been good to them.
“They’ll be full of confidence off the back of a few victories so it’s going to be tight and you’re going to have to earn your place in the semi-final.
“At this stage, every team in the competition is going to be looking towards a semi-final in Croke Park and they’re not going to fear anybody. They’re not going to fear coming up to us and we’re going to be really ready for them so it’s going to be a tough one.”
Topping the group saw the Saffron’s qualify for the last eight and earned not only home advantage for their quarter-final, but also a week’s break between games which gave them the opportunity to focus on themselves.
“I suppose the biggest advantage was probably getting the home draw because the three games over the course of those couple of weeks, the break gave us the chance to get the wee niggles sorted and recharge the batteries a bit.
“It gave us a chance to get really well prepared for the quarter-final. Obviously, we didn’t know who we had until this week, but we were still fit to work on a few things that weren’t going right in the first few games.
“It just gave us a wee bit more breathing space to do stuff like that and get the legs rested up again so that was probably the main advantage.
“After every game there’s wee things that you need to work on.When the games are coming week on week you’re just looking towards your next opponent and just doing what you can. But those extra two weeks allowed us to have a closer look at ourselves and iron out any wee issues, so it definitely was good that way.”