Antrim step into last chance saloon

By Michael McMullan

ANTRIM need to avoid defeat at home to Carlow this weekend to maintain their Leinster Championship status. It’s as simple as that.

In a world of group stages, ifs, buts and score difference, a Carlow win at Corrigan Park would banish Darren Gleeson’s side to the Joe McDonagh Cup for the first time since their 2022 win.

Of the last nine meetings of the counties at senior level, Antrim won four and there have been two draws.

Antrim won’t need reminding of the 2015 meeting in the Leinster Championship when 1-7 from Paul Coady in a 10-point Carlow victory in Dr Cullen Park sent the Saffrons packing to the Christy Ring Cup.

More recently, on a day when Neil McManus played his last game for the county, Antrim bagged four goals last year to see off Westmeath in the final game of the Leinster Championship to escape the drop.

Antrim have had an indifferent season. With many of their key players taking time out, they were under power during the league.

Their first game of the Leinster campaign was a tough afternoon against a Kilkenny team wanting to start with a bang.

Carlow drew with the Cats, an incredible result, and that alone leaves them with a considerable score difference advantage. That won’t matter one iota on Sunday.

Antrim will need to tap into the belief that saw them pull themselves from the jaws of defeat at home to Wexford to turn the tables.

Seaan Elliott, James McNaughton and Niall McKenna all pulled the strings with Gerard Walsh putting in a starring performance in defence.

The manner of their display should’ve been the kick-start needed to eye a Leinster final spot.

Instead, they were on the wrong end of a 20-point losing margin against Dublin in Parnell Park.

After that came Galway. Defeat there after a superb first half brought the realism that Sunday would be their next survival mission.

In Marty Kavanagh, Conor Kehoe and Chris Nolan, Carlow will have plenty of talent to test Antrim with.

The Saffrons have made Corrigan Park a fortress of sorts and they’ll need to be on their game this weekend. In terms of Sunday and the Leinster Championship, defeat to Carlow and there is no tomorrow. This is crunch time.

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