Antrim hurlers have come a long way
Those in Down and possibly Derry may feel differently but, in general, the affection for the Antrim hurling team is on a par with that of the rooting for an Ulster team in the later stages of the All-Ireland football Championship from other counties.
For them compete at as high a level as possible would be an important tool in the continuing improvement of Ulster hurling in general.
At the start of the year, Neil McManus stated that Antrim fans were in for some tough times, but throughout the league they made a great impression, beginning with a three-point loss to Limerick that could easily be attributed to the fact that Antrim are slightly behind teams of that calibre when it comes to conditioning, a crucial factor in the closing moments of a game.
The margins of defeat in hurling can often be much greater than in football, but that does not necessarily mean the defeat was much more comprehensive.
Only for some highly-objectionable decisions made against them in the Offaly game, they might have avoided the play-off altogether.
Now, Antrim have less than three weeks to get it right for Westmeath in the first round of the Leinster Championship. It was a game they lost last year which heralded the beginning of the wheels coming off under Jerry Wallis.
We don't expect a disaster like that again.