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GAA Football

Patrick McBride laments managerial exits - but backs Lenny Harbinson with Antrim

Patrick McBride has been impressed with new Antrim boss Lenny Harbinson

ANTRIM defender Patrick McBride has expressed his disappointment at the managerial exits of Frank Fitzsimons and Gearoid Adams in the summer – but has given his full backing to their successor Lenny Harbinson.

McBride was a big fan of Fitzsimons and Adams’ managerial style and produced his best football under the pair last season.

Despite a string of encouraging performances, Antrim suffered relegation back to Division Four on the last of the NFL season and were dismissed from the Championship stage after back-to-back defeats to Donegal and Sligo.

“Even though results didn’t look good for us last season everybody felt it was a good year for the squad, in terms of performances in Division Three and we blooded a lot of young new players and many of them made their Championship debuts,” said McBride (24).

“I really enjoyed last season and I’d say it’s the best we’ve played since I’ve been there but results didn’t go our way.”

When the county board instructed a nominations process would be initiated Adams walked away from his co-management post.

A few weeks later, Fitzsimons also stepped away after three years in charge, paving the way for a new regime to come in.

“Frank and Gearoid have moved on now… I think everyone was expecting the same management team to be there next season and whenever they weren’t we just had to look forward.

“The players were obviously big fans of Frank and Gearoid but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

If you keep looking back and get annoyed that they are not there doesn’t serve anybody well.”

Despite McBride’s disappointment at the upheaval, he’s been very impressed with the early signs from new boss Lenny Harbinson.

“We’re only a couple of weeks in but everything is good and positive, and Lenny seems good.

“Obviously I’ve heard good things about him and he’s showing it already. We’re looking forward to our first couple of games.

“Lenny seems to be very thorough, he’s well organised in terms of tactics and game play – as you’d expect.

“The atmosphere in the camp is good and we just hope the morale in the camp that we built up last season will stay with us.”

Antrim face Cavan, Tyrone and St Mary’s in next month’s Dr McKenna Cup in a condensed format that will see the three group games being concluded within a seven-day period.

Undoubtedly Antrim’s most consistent performer last season, McBride reflects ruefully on what might have been for the senior footballers in 2017.

“The best moments we had last season were obviously the games we won, particularly at Corrigan Park. That Saturday night League match down in Armagh was a big night for us, even though we lost.

“I felt we should have won the game but it showed us that we could compete against some of the better teams because most people felt Armagh were the best team in Division Three last season and we mixed it with them. We went down to Tipperary and dominated most of the game but we conceded two goals. The main disappointment of the year was not getting the results we thought we deserved.”

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