There is only one show in town when it comes to football next weekend and that is the meeting of Donegal and Antrim in the Ulster semi-final.
I was delighted to read in an interview that Michael Murphy gave during the week that Donegal are focussed and are in no way taking Antrim for granted.
This is good because after our performance and victory over Derry in Celtic Park in the first round, there could be a temptation to feel ‘Ah sure it’s only Antrim’.
Antrim may have had a poor campaign in Division Four of the league and ended up third from the bottom of the table, but I watched them in their first round win over Fermanagh and I was impressed with them.
I know Fermanagh are not world beaters either, but they had gone into the game on the back of a decent enough campaign in Division Three and they were also at home. It may have been close enough at the end but Antrim were much the better outfit. They led 1-10 to 0-1 at one stage and probably sat back and got caught with three second half Fermanagh goals.
They have a very good forward line. I was very impressed with them and they ran up a pretty good tally of 2-18, their problem, and possibly their Achilles’ heel, was that they conceded 3-13, albeit a couple of the Fermanagh goals were scored late on and when Antrim had taken the foot off the gas.
Kevin Niblock at full forward, though he played in a withdrawn role against Fermanagh, is a very good player and their play-maker in attack. I also liked their two corner forwards, Brian Neeson and Thomas McCann. They are two very pacey players. They also have a strong midfield pairing in Michael McCann and Niall McKeever. They are two big men and are good ball winners.
With the exception of Justin Crozier at centre-half back, their defence is weak and I can really see them struggle against our attack.
They looked good against Fermanagh, especially going forward. They also have Liam ‘Baker’ Bradley, back as manager. Baker is a wily old character and he has his son Paddy in helping him out. Paddy’s imprint was very evident in their forward play the last day.
But we have a fully fit squad and overall I think we will be far too good for them. That is as long as the attitude is right, something which I don’t think we need to worry about under Jim McGuinness.
The prize of a place in an Ulster final, a fourth in-a-row is too big to trip up. And I don’t expect we will.
The minors are also in the Ulster semi-final and are also facing Antrim, in the curtain-raiser.
We have a good minor team this year. They have already won the Ulster Minor League and Declan Bonner and his backroom team have done a fantastic job with this group of players.
I saw Antrim against Fermanagh in their first game. They ran up a big score and like their seniors, they looked good. But it was hard to judge them as Fermanagh played the second half with 14 men and I know from my contacts in Fermanagh it was seen as one of the weakest Fermanagh minor teams in years.
We looked good against Derry in the first half of our first round game, though we did lose our way a bit in the second half. It is always hard to know with minors but I see Sunday as a great opportunity to join the seniors in an Ulster final.
The beauty of making the final, regardless of how it goes, is that you are guaranteed a second chance.
Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.