Allianz Football League Division Three
Antrim v Cavan (Corrigan Park, Saturday, 2pm)
ANTRIM’S quest is to bounce back from two contrasting defeats, but their hopes for Division Three survival are still very much hang in the balance for the Saffrons as they look to end Cavan’s invincible league run.
The league situation sees Antrim teetering just above the relegation spots after a devastating loss to Westmeath in Mullingar a fortnight ago which saw the Saffrons beaten by a massive 31 points in what was a record-breaking score for the home side.
The situation could be simple if Antrim muster the ability to beat the invincible Cavan in Belfast, that would simply keep their head above water in Division Three for another season.
Antrim will be hopeful that Pat Shivers and company are on song after the poor finishing display on Mullingar a fortnight ago.
If they are to clinch any result, they’ll be having to keep Cavan forward Paddy Lynch quiet after he notched up two goals against Down in their last fixture.
This fixture could be a pre-cursor for a potential Ulster Championship tie with Antrim set to take on Armagh in three weeks’ time in the preliminary round where the winner would face Cavan in the first round of this year’s Ulster Championship.
In the likely event where Antrim would be beaten at Corrigan, results elsewhere could make their final day battle with Longford a tantalising affair.
Any positive result would give Antrim’s survival hopes an almost guarantee in the wake of their final game away to bottom side Longford.
The campaign overall has been a very disappointing one for Andy McEntee’s side.
Thus far, his side have suffered late defeats to Fermanagh and Down which handed the Saffrons two defeats by a single point on both occasions.
Antrim did manage a comfortable victory down in Thurles in week three.
So far, this has been their only win of the campaign so far against a struggling Tipperary, a game which looked to set their campaign into ignition, but so far it has failed to do so.
In a season of near-misses, Antrim captain and Naomh Éanna star, Peter Healy is hopeful they can rectify with an “improved performance” from the last game against Westmeath.
Not one but TWO home ties this weekend in the #AllianzLeagues— Antrim GAA (@AontroimGAA) March 15, 2023
🏐 First up our Footballers welcome Cavan to Corrigan on Saturday at 2pm
🥎 Then on Sunday our Hurlers welcome former All-Ireland champions Tipperary at 1:45pm
Tickets available: https://t.co/R7boz1AwRg pic.twitter.com/eOWchO1D6c
Speaking after the defeat in Mullingar, Healy expects the intensity and performance from himself and his teammates to improve drastically.
“Against Cavan we need to run a lot more and work a lot harder than we did against Westmeath,” he said.
“Cavan have continued their good form picking up another victory so it will be a hard game no doubt but we must give it our all.
“It is obviously ourselves, Longford and Tipperary that will have to battle it out to stay in the division.
“We are at Corrigan and we will make sure that the players attitudes will be on point and the boys will be hungry to correct this result (Westmeath game) and they really will want to get a game and put a big performance in which is definitely not a bad thing either, it shows we are determined.”
Healy does not think this weekend is the be all and end all for Antrim as they are also looking to the final game away to bottom side Longford.
“This weekend is massive,” he insists.
“But we still do have to play Longford and then that will be our season finished, but there are still points to play for and games to be won.
“We deserve to be closer to the top, there is no doubt in my mind that the hard work has gone in and the fact we are on two points is not testament to the work both players and staff have put in during the campaign.”
Antrim cannot simply take their eye off the ball as far as Cavan are concerned.
Worst case scenario they should be looking to stay close the high-flying Cavan should the issue of score-difference come into play.
Manager, Andy McEntee is hopeful his squad show some more resolve than their last outing and hopes the positive signs throughout this campaign can collectively come together to put some points and wins on the board for Antrim.
McEntee spoke after the defeat to Westmeath.
“We have had a lot of decent performances that should have seen us comfortable in the table,” said the Meath native.
“Results against Fermanagh and Down to name a few were if nothing but harsh, but that is the nature of the sport.
“We have to go back and look at our preparation and see what went wrong, we could feel sorry for ourselves but we have a massive game against Cavan and we need to focus on trying to get something.”
This weekend fellow strugglers Longford take on Down in Newry, meanwhile Tipperary will face off against county neighbours Offaly in Semple Stadium in Thurles. Results in both games could prove vital as both sides sit on a point apiece with Longford at the foot of the table.
Antrim will be hoping to upset the relentless Cavan in their pursuit for League glory, but will be keeping an eye out for results elsewhere as they strive for survival to remain in Division Three once again.