Antrim camógs host Tipperary this coming Saturday at Randalstown in their Liberty Insurance all-Ireland Intermediate Championship opening game. Of their five games in group one between now and the middle of August, Antrim are in the unusual position of being drawn at home in three of them with Kilkenny and Derry also coming to Antrim and the Saffrons only travelling to Kildare and Wexford. Saffron bosses Aidan McKeown and Joe Baldwin feel that this is a group in which their young squad can make progress despite the disappointment of losing the Ulster final to Derry in Swatragh last Sunday. Manager Aidan McKeown, a man of few words insists ” This is championship,Tipperary is a MUST win game that Antrim CAN win”.
If Antrim are to take those all-important two points and kick off their championship in the right way, they will need to strengthen their midfield and sharpen up their attack following the Derry defeat in which talented St.Johns midfielder Maédhbh Laverty was wasted in a corner forward role which didn’t suit her game. Antrim only managed two points for the entire game after the 21st minute at Swatragh and never looked like scoring a goal despite having a decent defence which drove the ball forward to no avail on numerous occasions.
National League form is not always a good indicator of championship potential but for the record Antrim only managed one win, against Armagh, in their Division 2 group and finished fifth while Tipperary took no part in the Littlewoods Division 2 leagues this year so little is known of them. Antrim selector Joe Baldwin reports that although they are a dark horse this season, Tipperary had a good year at Minor A level and he expects to see a number of that side turning out at Randalstown.