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GAA Football

Antrim footballers hoping Carlow can rein in Laois

Carlow midfielder Brendan Murphy (left) hailed promotion as their "All-Ireland" after beating Antrim on Sunday - now Antrim hope they both beat Laois. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

ANTRIM'S hopes of going up to Division Three are on a tightrope – and they depend on table-toppers Carlow completing a balancing act of their own.

The Saffrons need the Barrowsiders to take at least a point off Laois next weekend and even then Antrim will have to beat both Limerick and Laois in their last two matches in order to seal second spot.

Carlow boss Turlough O'Brien has already alluded to his county's rivalry with Laois, which could help Antrim, and he also indicated that he doesn't want to end their group campaign with a defeat:

"I don't know about doing anybody any favours, but we don't want to lose momentum either, we're not going to do what Wexford did last year in Division Four."

The Model County secured promotion in 2017 by winning their first five games. They then rested players and suffered a slump – being beaten twice by both Westmeath and Carlow, the former in the League and Final, the latter in the League and the Leinster Championship.

However, although he's wary of undergoing a similar downturn in fortunes, O'Brien also agreed that Carlow might rest certain players this coming weekend against Laois ahead of the Division Four final, rather than risk injuries or suspension:

"We will, of course. It's been pretty intense for this year's League, and the weather's been so bad as well, so it's been a very difficult League."

Carlow's star midfielder Brendan Murphy also held out hope for Antrim, insisting that they'll approach the Laois game in the right way:

"There'll be celebrations but the mentality we have this year is all about getting back [to training] Tuesday night and Thursday night. We're going to go and do our best to beat Laois.

"We just need to keep driving on. Carlow football is in a very good place at the minute."

It certainly is, having secured a first promotion out of Division Four since 1985, leading Murphy to declare:

"It's huge – I never thought this would come, it's just massive. It's our All-Ireland.

"I think it's 33 years – I certainly don't remember any Carlow team playing in anything but the bottom division. This is huge and we're going to enjoy it.

"This is the best day of my footballing career – not that we've had too many, but this tops anything. This is the dream, success with your county. We're up to Division Three,, what we've wanted for 33 years. This is massive."

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