GAA Football

Understrength Lamh Dhearg must step up against Naomh Eanna: Lynch

Lamh Dhearg were Antrim SFC champions in 2017 and finalists two years ago but are sweating on progress this season.
Picture by Cliff Donaldson
David Mohan

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship

DESPITE suffering defeat in the corresponding fixture last month, Declan Lynch insists revenge will not be on the minds of Lámh Dhearg when they host St Enda's in Group Three of the Antrim Senior Football Championship tomorrow.

The Red Hands were soundly defeated 1-14 to 1-10 in Glengormley, a result that helped refocus Lámh Dhearg minds as they went onto score two good wins on the road at Aldergrove and Aghagallon that leaves them heading into Sunday's game knowing that victory will punch their ticket into the quarter-finals.

That will not be an easy task with St Enda's making the trip across town full of confidence they can repeat that round two victory and put themselves in a favourable position to advance and the Lámh Dhearg cause is not helped with a lengthy injury list.

Veteran defender Michael Herron's season is over, while Kevin Quinn, Marc Jordan, Paddy Mervyn and Ryan Murray are major doubts.

However, Lynch insists that whoever lines out tomorrow afternoon will have a responsibility to perform as the prize is great should they claim both points.

"You see a lot of teams going out and it's revenge this, revenge that, but it is not revenge for us," said the county defender.

"We were beaten on the day by a better team and a team that was prepared for fight for each other and work for each other. There is a bit of responsibility for us to put that right, not for anyone else, but for our group.

"Whatever team we have out on the pitch will be confident of getting the result, as will St Enda's. We have a lot of boys out so others are going to have to step up."

Group Three is delicately poised with three teams very much in the hunt for the top two places that will secure a knockout berth.

Aghagallon will be strongly fancied to defeat Aldergrove in the other game that would see them move onto six points and level with whoever loses out in Hannahstown.

A win for Lámh Dhearg will move them onto eight points and unable to be caught by both St Enda's or Aghagllon who will face off in the final round with both locked on six, but should the Glengormley outfit take the win, then there is a possibility of three teams finishing up on eight points after all fixtures are completed and therefore scoring difference comes into play.

"When the groups were drawn, some people were saying it would be a comfortable one for us but now they realise it's a tough one," he stressed.

"We always knew it was going to be tough because St Enda's have a pedigree over the last few years and they deserved to beat us (at Hightown) and should have beaten us by more.

"Aghagallon have been knocking on the door over the last couple of years. Up in Hannahstown we scraped over the line when we had the game won and let them back into it. It was all to play for ups in Aghagallon but we pulled it out of the bag and now into a game against St Enda's that is massive."

Lynch admits he he has never been sold on the idea of a round robin format, but does see some merit as the Antrim SFC looks to be heading to a thrilling series of games once again with so much to play for.

"I wouldn't be the biggest advocate of group stages, but in hindsight it has served us well if we get out of the group as St Enda's beat us and that could have been our championship over," he continued.

"I think from the previous game against Agahagallon, we're seeing a proper step-up into championship football and it's almost knockout football now.

"I think this just gets more exposure for our county championship that I have said for a number of years is up there (with the best)."

Sunday's fixtures (all 2pm)

Northern Switchgear SFC

Group One

Cargin v Rossa

St John's v Moneyglass

Group Two

Ahoghill v St Brigid's

Group Three

Aldergrove v Aghagallon

Lámh Dhearg v Naomh Éanna

Group Four

Gort na Móna v St Gall's

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GAA Football