Antrim v Waterford
Sunday, Donaghmore-Ashbourne, 2.30pm
ANTRIM head to the familiar surroundings of Ashbourne this weekend, an opportunity to renew rivalries with the Waterford team they have encountered so often in recent times, and a chance to gain promotion to the top flight for next season.
It’s been an impressive league run so far for the Saffrons, but manager Mickey McCullough is brutally honest in his assessment and insists that Sunday is all that matters.
“”The thing about it having been an impressive league, is that we’ve absolutely nothing to show for it. Arsenal have had an impressive run in the Premiership this season as well, but they haven’t anything to show for it either.
“”We’ve played some great stuff, got some lovely scores and worked hard. But the simple fact of it is that if we don’t come out with at least a one-point win on Sunday, all that will have been for nothing. Absolutely nothing. We want to win this weekend. We want a league title this weekend.””
Antrim have been dealt a blow ahead of the game with the absence of midfielder Maeve Connolly. The 17 year-old was hugely impressive around the middle third, but a knee injury has ruled her out of the reckoning for their showdown with the Deise.
Rhona Torney, rock solid at the back in previous campaigns, has returned from England to boost Antrim’s options, and although unlikely to start this weekend, it would be no surprise to see her introduced to shore up the defence at some stage.
Antrim’s recent successes have made them very much a target for opponents wanting to take a scalp. It’s a big compliment for the Saffrons, but it brings its own difficulties, and problems which McCullough insists his troops must guard against this Sunday as they attempt to add the league title to their trophy haul.
“”It’s the teams who win one year and then come back and win again the following year who show real mettle. You win something, then spend the whole following year looking for pats on the back and congratulations from everyone. You forget that everyone else is gunning for you because you’ve been successful.
“”We have to be ready for that, to get the head down and grind out results the way we need to. That will be tested to the limit by Waterford. They’ll hit us… they’ll not be asking us what it was like to play at Croke Park.
“”Mickey Harte calls it æcompetitive greatness.’ In other words, when it matters, can you win it? For us, it matters this Sunday.””