Antrim v Carlow, Division 1B relegation play-off, Sunday 3pm
By Micil Glennon
Antrim and Carlow go toe to toe in Navan, battling for Division 1B survival.
As with the top of the table positions, the bookmakers had predicted that the Ulster men and the newly-promoted side would play-off this Sunday.
Between them they managed just a solitary success in the league – notably it was Antrim’s win over Carlow in Round 4, where the Saffrons ran out 3-14 to 0-13 winners in Dr Cullen Park.
Carlow boss John Meyler will be most disappointed that they failed to register. Before the last-gasp defeat to Offaly, they ran Wexford close on the opening day and gave Limerick a fright a week later.
Antrim got to within three points of beaten play-off finalists Limerick in Round 1 and Dublin beat them by eight, while Wexford had 12 points to spare before that loss to Offaly, in what was a play-off to avoid the play-off.
"Going down would set us back a year" - Antrim's Aaron Graffin
Defender Aaron Graffin says that defeat against Carlow would undo a lot of positive work done since the end of a very messy 2012 season.
“Going down would set us back a year,” he told the Irish News.
“This is a young team and we're a work in progress so if we did get relegated, it would be so disappointing.
"We don't even want to think about it. We're treating this game as our important game of the year. I hope to God that we perform the way we can."
Some of the noises coming from the Carlow camp after the defeat to Dublin indicate that Meyler was less than happy with the effort of his team in the second period of that game.
“Our second-half performance was flat. Dublin got their scores and the game was over. We face into a relegation match against Antrim and... we have to get ready and put it right,” he said in the Nationalist.
There’s little doubt that he will have his side motivated but Antrim won’t be any less hungry to avoid the dreaded drop.
The fact that Ryan was in charge of Carlow from 2008 to 2012 limits any surprise element, and, of course, the fact that the sides have already played twice this season (Carlow actually won the Walsh Cup fixture) means there is little chance of an ambush on the cards.
Live radio coverage of the Allianz National Leagues from 14:00 on Sunday 14 April on RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ RnaG and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).
Highlights of all the weekend’s Allianz League action on League Sunday on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only) from 20:00.