By Kevin Herron
Antrim captain Declan Lynch admits victory against Louth was relief more than anything.
The Saffrons fought back from 1-05-0-02 down after a quarter of an hour to claim their first championship win in four years at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday evening.
Victory was Lynch’s first as captain and manager Lenny
Harbinson’s first as manager and Lamh Dhearg native Lynch revealed that he
urged his team mates to forgot about past defeats in the Saffron jersey.
“It was great – it was more relief than anything” admits
“The hard work from October and November has paid off and it
made it all the sweeter. The boys had said it was the first championship win in
four years but what I told the lads was: it’s a new team, it’s a new panel and
it’s our first win out of one as a new panel in the qualifiers. I don’t want to
look at past times – it’s done. It’s a fresh panel, we’ve went into the
qualifiers once and came out with a win”.
Lynch paid tribute to his sides character and bravery and at
six-points down was still under the illusion that they would turn the game
“We’re trying to build something and we’ve shown massive
character and bravery in the panel” acknowledged Lynch.
“The way it’s went this year – it probably would have been
easy for more boys to walk off the panel and leave it. Everyone can have an
excuse but we dug in today – Louth’s first goal was a mistake but Padraig
[Nugent] showed good courage after that and played an even braver kick-out that
got us up the pitch and actually resulted in us getting a score; so it’s great
“We knew – even when we went six down; we actually knew we
had it in us. We played rightly in stages against Tyrone but still weren’t
happy with our performance then. We dug in and knew we had it in us, we weren’t
going to give up that easy after training all year – we weren’t going to let
the fans and ourselves down”.
In the second period the Saffrons played with a style and
confidence that hasn’t been seen for many a year and although Lynch was happy
he also feels there is much to work on ahead of their next game in two weeks
“It was great to play – we aren’t often used to playing in
them situations for Antrim” said Lynch.
“It was great to be able to play in an environment that we
were relaxed in at that stage – we were in complete domination of the game and
probably should have been more ahead. That’s something we have to look at,
being more clinical. We’ve players that would get on most teams – as people saw
last night; our forwards were absolutely super and our defence”.
“We’ve a few things to work on overall but we’re reasonably
happy. We kept Louth to 1-11 – we’ve stuff to work on but when we actually move
the ball through the hands quick; we’re hard to stop. That’s the thing putting
it all together – that’s the thing that Antrim teams have struggled with down
the years. Putting a collective seventy minutes together”.
Monday’s second round qualifiers draw saw the Saffrons paired with Kildare – the sides last met eight years ago in the first round with the Lilywhites progressing after a replay at Casement Park. Lynch is confident his side will be prepared for the challenge and will be able to work on aspects that went wrong on Saturday evening.
“At this stage we’re happy to be in the draw” Lynch
“The last thirty years we have been looking and saying what ifs
– ifs, whys and buts. It’s great to actually wake up on Monday morning knowing
we’re still in the hat. We’ll be prepared and the management will get us ready
and we’ll look at the opposition, ourselves and were we went wrong against
Louth. We’ll be ready to go in two weeks