Antrim's Odhran Eastwood hoping to shed super-sub tag after hitting 2-3 in Limerick win
AFTER spending more time on the bench than he would have liked this season, Antrim’s Odhran Eastwood exploded into life by hitting a game-winning 2-3 in last weekend’s resounding victory over Limerick.
The Naomh Éanna corner-forward earned a rare start in the Saffron attack and he repaid manager Lenny Harbinson’s faith in him with two brilliant goal finishes against the Division Four leaders in Portglenone.
Eastwood was sprung from the bench against Sligo, London and Carlow during which he compiled 45 minutes of game-time.
With Harbinson shaking up his attack for the must-win game against the Shannonsiders last weekend, Eastwood produced the goods.
“Ask any sub on any team and they’ll not want to be a sub,” said Eastwood.
“I read what Kevin McManamon of Dublin said that he didn’t like doing sub but he’d do it if needs be. You want to start games. I knew if I got a chance I could take it. I started the first McKenna Cup match [against Fermanagh]. I wasn’t happy just sitting on the bench – nobody’s happy doing that - but hopefully I can start in two weeks time against Wicklow.”
Despite his lack of starts for Antrim in 2020, Eastwood was one of Queen’s star performers under boss Conor Deegan.
In recording their first win in Sigerson in four years over TC Dublin City Campus, Eastwood was instrumental in the victory, hitting a quick-fire 1-3 from play towards the end of the tie at The Dub.
Eastwood rejected the notion that playing Sigerson and county football at the same time was difficult.
“It probably helped me,” said the Queen’s Law student.
“We were training a couple of nights with Antrim and then Conor [Deegan] wasn’t expecting us to do all the Queen’s training. It just gave me more football more than anything and more games.”
Antrim earned rave reviews for the emphatic manner of their 12-point win over Limerick four days ago after a series of patchy performances in Division Four.
“Before the Limerick game, we’d be the first to admit that we haven’t played to our best,” he said.
“The first day against Wexford we didn’t play that great, we weren’t great in the first half against Carlow and we slipped up in Sligo. Maybe there was a pressure put on us that we had to win especially with Limerick playing so well and it was a big, open pitch up in Portglenone which probably suited us.
“We hit 2-21 against Limerick. We’ve enough quality to be putting that kind of performance in. The challenge now is: can we do it in two weeks’ time against Wicklow. But beating the league leaders is putting a marker down too.”
If Antrim win their remaining two fixtures against Wicklow (a) and Waterford (h) they will be promoted to Division Three for the first time since 2016, Eastwood’s first year on the senior panel.
“Playing week on week, every game is just so competitive,” he said. “We want to get out of Division Four and establish ourselves in Division Three. With the new Tier Two competition coming up we’ll see how that goes and obviously the Ulster Championship is a brilliant buzz, but you’re waiting around for four to six weeks, so playing games week in week out and with so much riding on each game is great.
“Theses league matches are like cup finals for us now. If we win our games we are up.”