Antrim senior football squad hit by loss of three players

Patrick McBride
Patrick McBride scored two points in Antrim's shock win over Laois

Antrim senior football manager Frank Fitzsimons has been dealt a blow with the news that three key players will not be available to the Saffrons for the remainder of the summer.

Patrick McBride, Conor Burke and Paddy McAleer have decided to take up the option of playing football in Boston.

Fitzsimons held talks with each of the players this week but was unable to persuade the trio to stay.

Antrim play Fermanagh in an All-Ireland qualifier at Brewster Park on 5 July.

The sides will be meeting for the second time in this season's Championship, the Ernemen having prevailed 1-13 to 0-8 in the Ulster SFC quarter-final between the counties on 31 May.

The news of the departure of the three 21-year-olds comes just days after Antrim's shock win over Laois in round one of the qualifiers at O'Moore Park.

McBride, Burke and McAleer are three of the county's brightest young prospects, with McBride having produced an outstanding performance last weekend, scoring two points.

McAleer has been a regular in Fitzsimons's line-ups since he took over the reins at the start of the season.

Burke was one of the St Gall's trio dropped for the Laois game, along with CJ and Kieran McGourty, because they played a hurling game for their club on the previous night.

The Saffrons panel has suffered many losses over the last 12 months, with Kevin Niblock, Kevin O'Boyle and Brian Neeson not returning to the Antrim set-up this season.

Tomas and Michael McCann stepped away during the National League campaign.

Fitzsimons will welcome the return however of Ricky Johnston and Sean McVeigh for the return with Fermanagh next weekend.

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