In form Antrim can edge it in Armagh

Tailteann Cup Group 4- Round 3

Fermanagh v Antrim

Athletic Grounds – 3.00 pm Sunday

Antrim travel to the Athletic Grounds, Armagh on Sunday for the final game in Group 4 of the Tailteann Cup to face Fermanagh with both sides in good form going into Sunday’s fixture.

Sunday’s opponents have been making their presence felt in the Tailteann Cup competition and this weekend’s encounter promises to be a tantalising shoot-out between the Ulster sides who have each recorded two wins to date in the competition.

Antrim beat Wexford by 2-15 to 0-14 to complement their earlier win in the competition against Leitrim (3-18 to 2-12) and put themselves into the reckoning to make further progress.

Wexford made a bright opening but when Aghagallon’s Ruairi McCann pounced for two goals in quick succession their opponents began to falter.

With Conor Stewart a dominant presence at midfield, Patrick Finnegan a lively creative force and Dominic McEnhill accurate from both frees and play, the Antrim machinery remained in top gear as the match progressed.

Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly will take satisfaction from his team’s win over Leitrim (1-19 to 2-7).

Sean Quigley was very much to the fore in the Fermanagh attack while Ryan Lyons and Ryan Jones were hugely impressive for the Lake sider’s and helped their side overcome a tricky opponent.

Leitrim’s two goals helped to keep them in touch but Fermanagh found another gear to win fairly convincingly in the end.

With both sides already qualified for the quarter-finals the opposing managers may possibly take the opportunity to experiment but a win would still be important for momentum and possibly a favourable draw in the quarter-finals.

Sunday’s opponents met at Corrigan Park earlier in the year in division 3 of the National League. Thirteen minutes into the second half the Saffrons led 3-7 to 0-8 after Peter Healey fired home their third goal following a defence splitting build up but they would add only two further points.

For the second week running, Fermanagh produced a stunning finish against an Ulster rival to keep their Division 3 promotion hopes alive as Antrim were left the victim of the smash-and-grab which left them shell shocked.

Fermanagh came back strongly and  Ultan Kelm’s goal re-energised Kieran Donnelly’s side but Pat Shivers point with six minutes of normal time remaining moved Antrim four in front and they appeared to have weathered the storm.

However Sean Quigley fisted home from a Garvan Jones delivery to level and with time almost up a turnover was punished by Conor McGee as Fermanagh took the most unlikely of wins.

Fermanagh went on to gain promotion and Antrim were left to reflect on what might have been after drawing with the division 3 winners, Cavan but there are certainly signs that Andy McEntee’s project is gaining momentum.

The Meath man has assembled a side who on their day are capable of competing against the best and have found a bit of consistency in the Tailteann Cup and will go into Sunday’s meeting in Armagh in confident mood.

Ruairi McCann, Adam Loughran and Dominic McEnhill have been in a fine vein of scoring form in the competition while the more established players like Marc Jordan, Peter Healey, Paddy McBride, Ruairi McCann (Creggan) and Conor Stewart have all been in fine form.

Odhran Eastwood has started on the bench in recent games but scored a goal against Fermanagh in that heart breaking one point defeat and can provide another scoring threat if called upon.

Fermanagh will start this one as favourites but I expect Antrim to throw off the shackles and push them all the way and I believe we have the players to record a third win in the Tailteann Cup and go forward to the quarter-finals with confidence.

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