GAA Football

Antrim boss Niall Jackman has no time for glory in defeat

Ronan McKillop is part of the Antrim U20s squad which takes on Donegal on Wednesday
Shaun Casey

EirGrid Ulster U20 Football Championship quarter-final

Donegal v Antrim (Wednesday, Pairc Sean Mac Cumhaill, 7.30pm)


ONE of the toughest draws in Ulster football is Donegal away and that’s the challenge presented to the Antrim U20s this evening when they take on Leo McLoone’s Tir Chonaill side in Ballybofey with a spot in the provincial semi-final at stake.

Saffron boss Niall Jackman, in his fourth year involved with the team, says his side are looking forward to the challenge.

“Donegal, some might view that they’re not in the one or two top favourites for the competition, but they’ve got some excellent players,” he said.

“They’ve got a really good, strong management team there and I know the level of work and commitment they put in.

“They’re probably disappointed by their own standards over the last few years, not getting hands on silverware themselves. 

“I know they won the Leo Murphy Cup last year, which was good and that’ll give them a boost, but they’ll be going out all guns blazing.

“Ballybofey is always an absolute hotpot to go to. I always enjoy watching games there and I know what it can do to teams as well. And Donegal is a massively supported county, no matter what level it is.

“I’m sure there’ll be a bit of a crowd out supporting them; hopefully we can get a few down as well but you can’t not look forward to that. 

“We’ll be underdogs, no doubt, but sometimes that doesn’t do you any harm. We’ll see how it goes and we’re looking forward to it.”

Antrim will be the underdogs but they showed their quality last year when put it up to Derry. Ultimately they lost, and Jackman isn’t one for moral victories.

“Lads are sick of that pat on the back and that patronising ‘you put it up well to them’,” said the Fermanagh man.

“If I was on the outside, I’d be saying the same myself but there’s only so much you can take of it.

“You don’t go back into it year on year at this level
with pats on the back – ‘hard luck, nearly there’ – you get into this level because you’re two games away from an Ulster final. 

“The situation we’re in, we have three games to put silverware on the table for Antrim GAA and that’s firmly the way we’re looking at it. 

“People might scoff and laugh at that, but I can ensure you that’s the mindset these boys have had over the last couple of years.”

GAA Football