Revenge is sweet — and Antrim’s hurlers aim to enjoy a ration of it tomorrow when they meet Dublin in Croke Park.
A year ago Dinny Cahill’s side met the Dubs in the Leinster Championship fired by optimism and ambition but ended up a poor second to the metropolitan outfit.
Now as the Saffrons prepare to cross swords with Anthony Daly’s side again, this time in the All Ireland qualifiers, manager Cahill is confident that they can exorcise the demons that have plagued them on the big stage of late.
“To be playing Dublin in Croke Park offers us the ideal opportunity to overturn last year’s result,” points out Cahill. “There is no doubt that Dublin have made big strides isince Anthony Daly took over but we have a bit more self-belief after beating Down in the Ulster final and overcoming Carlow in the first phase of the qualifiers.” The Tipperary native may have been without some of his established players earlier in the year but tomorrow Dunloy’s Paul Shiels will lead a side that contains experience and finishing skills.
Veteran Karl McKeegan is currently revelling in his new role at corner-forward, Liam Watson has rediscovered his flair, P J O’Connell is emerging as a talented marksman and Neil McManus is one of the most creative players in the sport.
But while Antrim can lean on solid attributes, Dublin possess class acts in Alan McCrabbe and Stephen Hiney, two players who can severely punish opponents if they are plied with possession.
No wonder Cahill is urging his defence in which Johnny Campbell and Ciaran Herron are key figures, to be on their guard.