Antrim should bring home maximum points from London
Allianz National Football League Division Four: London v Antrim
(Sunday, Ruislip, 1pm)
ANTRIM’S footballers have an early start and a late finish on Sunday, when they make the round trip to London to take on an Exiles side still smarting from a 23-point hammering by Wexford last weekend.
London manager Ciaran Deely’s return to his native county was not a happy one and he’ll hope for better against the Division Four pacesetters, who top the table with three wins from three games so far.
Despite the travel, they’ll be confident of making it four-from-four and the stats back that up. Antrim have met London nine times in the league since 2001 and have been comfortable winners in every game bar one - an attritional 1-12 to 1-8 encounter back in 2014.
“We’ve done the round-trip before and it’s a wee bit tiring, but it worked okay and we’re sticking with it,” joint manager Gearoid Adams explained.
“London have nothing to lose now after the loss to Wexford and they’re going to adopt a system of either going for it or going the other way and becoming completely defensive.
“They’ve played three games, two of them were close and then Wexford gave them a hiding last week. We’ll see how they react and I expect a reaction from them because, every time we’ve played them in the past, it’s been very tight and, every year, they spring one or two surprises.”
While the counties have been regular foes in Division Four, they have met just once in the Championship in the last decade. Four years ago, Adams was part of the management team when Antrim travelled to Ruislip and won by two points.
“We got out by the skin of our teeth,” he recalled.
“In the Championship, they were very hard to beat and they have nothing to lose now, they can go out with freedom and try to express themselves. We’re going to push them and try to claim another two points and try our best to get out of this Division Four.”
So far, so good for Antrim. The Saffrons haven’t conceded a goal yet (London have conceded 10) and they have beaten Carlow, Wexford and Leitrim to make it to the Division Four summit.
“I read a quote by Mickey Harte saying basically: ‘results so far are perfect - we’ve got six points out of a possible six’,” said Adams.
“Our performances could be improved but, if we go out against any team the way we started against Leitrim, we’ll be in trouble because, if Leitrim had have had their shooting boots on, they could have converted some major scores and we would have been chasing the game.”
Antrim are hoping to have Mick McCann available for Saturday’s clash. The Cargin midfielder has a hamstring strain, but will travel with the side and will play if fit. However, his clubmate Justin Crozier is definitely out.
“Justin won’t make it, we don’t want to push him but, apart from him, they’re all okay to go,” said Adams.
Although they have lost all three games, London had acquitted themselves well this season until last Sunday’s capitulation against Wexford. The Exiles had been well in their games against Carlow and Louth and team captain Dave McGreevy hopes for better against Antrim.
“Antrim are going well but, on our day, we’re a good team as well,” he warned.
If it’s London’s day on Sunday, they should be capable of giving Antrim a game, anything less and the Saffrons should win this comfortably.
London: C Campbell; P Butler, Ciaran Dunne, D Quinn; D McGreevy, D Ryan, Colin Dunne; J Moran, M Gottsche; A Moyles, C Greene, L Gavaghan; S Hickey, E Murray, L Mulvey.