GAA Football

Belief is central to Antrim chances of success against Cavan

Antrim's Ruairi McCann and Declan Lynch (right) put Fermanagh's Aiden Breen under pressure during the Dr McKenna Cup clash on Sunday January 5 2020 at Ahoghill. Picture by Cliff Donaldson.

ANTRIM captain Declan Lynch believes his team must believe they can spring a surprise when they travel to Cavan on Saturday for their Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final against the Breffnimen.

Mickey Graham's side stung something of a surprise when edging out neighbours Monaghan after extra-time at the weekend to advance to a meeting with the Saffrons, but the Antrim skipper believes there could be shocks aplenty over the coming weeks due to the nature of this year's Championship.

Antrim will spend an other year in Division Four having missed out on promotion once more, but Cavan will be in the division above next season having been relegated from Division Two.

Still, Cavan will be firm favourites to reach the semi-final when the counties clash on Saturday, but Lynch, whilst accepting his team will be underdogs, must travel with belief that they can upset the odds should they get their performance right.

"We are under no illusions that had we beaten Wicklow and Waterford (in the league), we'd be going in here as firm underdogs and we deserve to be," he said.

"You can't go in against a Division Two team with us in Division Four thinking we are favourites or close to it.

"We are fully aware of that, but going in off the back of a good result (against Waterford) brings a bit of confidence back.

"We are starting to come out of our shell and gel for a massive crack at this. There are going to be shocks in this Championship as a whole across the provinces.

"I'm not saying we're going to be one, but there will be shocks, so why not prepare that it could be us?"

With the condensed, straight knockout Championship taking place much later in the year than usual off the back of restrictions on training and challenge games, teams will not have had their usual run-in for this campaign, meaning there could be a slight levelling of the field.

Perhaps over analysis of teams may lead to a much more open series of games and there were signs that the weekend, despite the horrendous conditions, that it may be the case of teams trying to be a little more expansive and expressive.

Lynch says it has taken a little time over the past few weeks to get back up to speed, but has enjoyed the return of inter-county action and is excited for what lis ahead.

"I actually think you'll see a lot more pure football over the next few weeks and you probably saw that in the National League games," he predicts.

"There has been a lot more attacking football from everyone, more scores and that may have been from people not having the ball in their hands for long enough.

"I know myself, that you and train all you want but once you got the ball in your hand in a National League game it was totally different.

"I'm excited for the game and also excited for the whole Championship as I think there will be shocks."

The Lámh Dhearg man slotted into full-back for Antrim's last game against Waterford two weeks ago when injury to Ricky Johnston forced the hand of manager Lenny Harbinson.

Lynch is better known as a wing-back but says he is ready to play anywhere this weekend should get get the nod.

"I played full-back against London when Ricky was out, but I'm used to playing anywhere now," he confirmed.

"We have such a good panel now that if you are playing at all, you're happy.

"I'd prefer to be out in the half-back line but if Lenny thinks I can do a job in the full-back line if selected, then I'm happy."

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GAA Football