St. Geraldine’s GFC, Haggardstown in Co. Louth proved to be an excellent venue as Antrim called Waterford’s bluff to set up a meeting with the Deise. Despite failing to gain promotion when other results went against the Saffrons, Lenny Harbision’s side gained a valuable run out to put last weekend’s mauling in Aughrim behind them.
Antrim were due to meet Waterford in their final NFL Division 4 fixture in Portglenone on Saturday but the Leinster side raised objections during the week citing Corona virus concerns and objections to the distance they had to travel.
Antrim offered the alternative venue of Davitt’s in Belfast which would have taken 30 miles each way of the Waterford journey but they dug their heels in and refused to travel unless the game was played in the South.
A late call to the Louth club and their willingness to stage the game allowed the visitors from Leinster no more wriggle room and on Friday night the game was on again, providing Antrim with the opportunity to put the previous week’s heavy defeat to bed and restore some much needed confidence with the championship meeting with Monaghan or Cavan just two weeks away.
Where is Haggardstown? I hear you say and this scribe certainly hadn’t heard of it prior to Saturday’s visit but the welcome we received and the ground itself will last long in the memory. Their ground lies just 10 minutes-drive from the M1 in a lovely setting.
St. Geraldine’s are a well-established club and were Louth Senior football champions in 1913, 1915, 1916, 1920 and 1982 and their ladies footballers were Louth champions this year. Their players are drawn from Haggardstown and Blackrock and they play their football in Division 1 of the Louth All County league.
Their efficient hosting of Saturday’s game was first class following all the protocols of Covid 19 and providing a warm welcome to both teams and members of the media who attended.
Before the game I had a chat with their chairman, Brian Cafferty and was amazed to hear that he had a wide knowledge of clubs in Antrim and indeed players from my own club. He had attended the University of Ulster in Coleraine and had played in a few challenge games against All Saints.
He mentioned Charlie Mullaghan of Rasharklin and David McCormick and John Donaghy from All Saints as players he had played with or knew and after five minutes I felt like I had known him all my life.
As we know Antrim recorded a confidence boosting win over the Deise and a useful run out before their Ulster championship opener so the journey was very worthwhile.
As I prepared to leave the ground I noticed an advert for their club lotto with the prize money this week at 13,600 euros and hastily returned to the clubrooms to buy a ticket and I’m praying for a call on Tuesday night from Brian Cafferty or one of the club’s committee beckoning me down to Haggardstown to collect my prize money.