ANTRIM'S hurlers and footballers now have a bit of certainty as their fixtures for the delayed inter-county season were finally revealed yesterday.
Last weekend, the Ulster Council formally announced their schedule with Lenny Harbinson's footballers due to face the winners of the preliminary round clash between Monaghan and Cavan on Saturday, November 7, at 1.15pm.
Should the Farneymen overcome their Breffni neighbours, that game will take place at Corrigan Park (subject to license) and would, ironically, be Antrim's first home Championship game in Ulster since they lost to Monaghan in Casement Park prior to its closure in 2013. Should Cavan prevail, the game will be played in Kingspan Breffni Park.
However, Antrim have some work to do before all that as two rounds remain in the National League with the Saffrons having promotion from Division Four well within their grasp.
They were due to face Wicklow in Aughrim back on March 15 having scored a hugely-impressive victory over table-toppers Limerick in their previous outing, but lockdown put paid to that fixture and they will now get the opportunity to take a major step towards promotion when they visit the Garden County on Saturday, October 17, at 2pm.
That game will be followed-up by their final League fixture against Waterford that is now set for the following week, October 24, in Portglenone with the same starting time.
Darren Gleeson's hurlers are also in the promotion mix and having navigated the group stages of Division 2A undefeated, they will meet Kerry - who they defeated in Tralee earlier in the competition - at O'Connor Park in Tullamore on Sunday, October 18, with a 1.30pm start.
That initial game - also scrubbed due to Covid-19 - was originally set for Croke Park and there were murmurs that GAA Headquarters would host the refixture, but due to a fresh lockdown in the capital, the teams will decide who moves up to Division One for 2021 in the Midlands.
Antrim fans will also take note of the Joe McDonagh Cup fixtures that were released yesterday.
The final is due to be played as a curtain-raiser to the All-Ireland Senior Hurling final on Saturday, December 13.
The exposure alone is a huge incentive, but the real prize is entry into the hunt for Liam MacCarthy in 2021 and the Saffrons will begin their quest with a home game at Corrigan Park against Westmeath on Sunday, October 24 (2pm).
They will be back in action six days later, on the road at old foes Carlow on Halloween, October 31 (2pm), before enjoying a fortnight's break when they host Kerry back at Corrigan Park (1.30pm). The final game will see Antrim travel to Navan to face Meath on Saturday, November 28 (also 1.30pm).
The top two teams out of the five-team group will qualify for that final on what will be a unique All-Ireland final day in December.
St Paul's Ladies game off
St Paul's ladies' footballers were dealt a blow as their Ulster LGFA Senior Club Championship semi-final against holders Donaghmoyne, set for tomorrow (Sunday) was cancelled due to a rise in cases of Covid-19 throughout the province.
The Shaw's Road girls, who reached last year's All-Ireland Intermediate final, defeated Armagh Harps in the quarter-final last week and were looking forward to a crack at the Monaghan outfit, but it was decided last night (Friday) that all games across all levels in the the Ulster Ladies Football Club Championships would be put on ice, with the situation reevaluated in a fortnight's time.