GAA Football

Antrim can't afford to feel sorry for themselves - James Laverty

Antrim's James Laverty says the Saffrons aren't dwelling on their NFL Division Four final defeat to Louth  
Sean O'Neill

ANTRIM may have fallen to a disappointing defeat in the Division Four League final, but James Laverty says they cannot afford feel to sorry for themselves.

The Saffrons were beaten by Louth at Croke Park last Saturday after leading the match by five points early in the second period. The concession of three goals and, in particular, the two scored by the Wee county after half-time, were hammer blows the Ulster side were not able to recover from. The result was surely sobering ahead of their Ulster Championship preliminary round clash with Fermanagh on May 15.

However, when we spoke, Laverty, though recognising work is certainly needed, was accentuating the positives: "We went there with the full intention of winning now," said the Cargin man.

"But things just didn’t work out in the end. We took the foot off the pedal and just never got it back on. But it's only one game, so we have plenty to work on. There’s no lying about feeling sorry for ourselves. If we do that - Fermanagh could give us a tanking, so we’ve got to stay positive. We were back out training on Monday night."

The two main areas of concern for managers Frank Fitzsimons and Gearoid Adams will be the relative ease with which Louth were able to break Antrim down and the 23-minute period of the second-half during which their charges did not score.

Laverty agreed that fallow period is a concern and honestly analysed the concession of the majors which, in fairness, was most un-Antrim like so far this season: "That was a worrying point [not scoring for 23 minutes], but we were sort of glad maybe that it happened then," he said.

"Maybe it won’t happen again in three weeks' time, which is the big one. That would be an area that we would probably need to work on for the next couple of weeks. Definitely in the second-half, their tactic was to drive the ball in long on top of their big men.

"I suppose it worked to an extent. I think, with the first goal - we were a bit disappointed with [how] the boy crept in. Nobody saw him and then the second one - to be fair, it was a good finish, but it probably could have been easily prevented if we had maybe worked a bit harder.

"But the third one - I thought boys were just out on their feet at the end. They were trying to get forward, but the energy was gone. All year, we had prided ourselves on not conceding and the last game just didn’t show that."

One undoubted positive to take from the game was the display of Laverty's clubmate Tomas McCann. His enduring class and continuing importance to the Antrim cause were underlined by his eight-point haul, including a nerveless free to draw the game late on.

"There’s not many players like marking Tomas," insisted Laverty.

"He’s that quick and powerful. A man who can kick with both feet - he’s very, very hard to mark now. On Saturday, it just seemed to click for him and I think Louth struggled a lot with him. And even at the end - a crucial kick to level it was no problem to him. He just chipped it over the bar. He doesn’t let too many things affect him. He probably just treated it as another kick and just sent it over the bar. But unfortunately, we just couldn’t get another one."

Laverty also views the short gap between the Louth and Fermanagh games as a bonus and one that other counties will be envious of: "Last year, we finished the league and we had an eight-week break. This year, we’ve only three weeks and it’s probably better for us," he said.

"The momentum won’t stop and although we were defeated - we can take a few negatives, but we can also take a lot of positives from Saturday’s game. We’re fully focused on Fermanagh now and getting a victory and getting on to the next round.

"We’re still getting games. I’m sure there are counties there who maybe have eight weeks off and they’re crying out for friendlies and challenge games and we didn’t have that problem. We were getting ready for a final."

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