Antrim owe everyone a performance against Louth says Matthew Fitzpatrick
ANTRIM’S players owe themselves and their supporters a performance against Louth in the Qualifiers says Saffron talisman Matthew Fitzpatrick.
The St John’s clubman, who went down fighting in the face of the Red Hands’ overwhelming superiority at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday night, says Antrim need to “do themselves justice” in the Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda clash.
Monday’s draw paired the Saffrons with the ‘Wee County’ who were also given a chastening lesson last weekend when they came up against Dublin in the Leinster Championship and lost by 26 points.
“We owe everyone, we owe ourselves and anyone who came to Armagh to support us, a performance,” said Fitzpatrick.
“We put the work in all year and we deserve better from ourselves.
“We need to look at the Tyrone match and learn from it but you can’t get hung up on it too much, we have to put that to the back of our heads and get ready for Louth and do ourselves a bit of justice.
“To get respect we need a win, that’s why I can’t criticise anyone for not coming to watch because we’re not winning. We need a win to get a bit of respect back in our own county before we even worry about outside the county.”
Fitzpatrick would challenge for a place on most county teams but when the Allstars are awarded this year he is unlikely feature in the discussions. He created one goal and scored another against Tyrone but Antrim get little or no air-time so he doesn’t get the acclaim he might get elsewhere. That doesn’t bother him though.
“We have good players but it’s tough in Antrim,” he says.
“There’s very good players who aren’t even playing and it’s hard for us to play at a higher level and get success when some of the best players in the county aren’t playing.
“I’m not blaming them but it’s tough. There were players making their debut (on Saturday night) but it’s not easy making your debut against Tyrone. You have to expect mistakes but you can’t really make mistakes because, when you do, they punish you.”
He added: “People have different circumstances – people have kids, they have jobs… I get all that and it is time-consuming. But I want to play at the top level for as long as I can because you’re going to get to an age where you’re not that good any more, you’re not going to be able to play and then that’s it.
“You may as well put it in when you have the chance because there’s going to come a stage where they won’t want you any more. While they do want you I would give it go because you never know what you can do.
“There’s a lot of things I can improve on. I try and do myself justice but when there are scorelines like that (2-23 to 2-9) it’s very easy to say ‘stuff this’ we’re getting hammered, I might as well just wait for the final whistle but in my opinion you may as well give it a lash.
“They (Tyrone) are very good players and you may as well just test yourself against them.
“Their fitness and their physique is never in doubt but it was their finishing, how clinical they were that sets them apart. Even their first touch… We were spilling the ball or taking two goes to pick it up but when they pass it it’s ‘ping’ straight into their chest and they take a point.
“They don’t miss and that’s disheartening because it’s like you can’t catch a break.”