As the climax to the hurling season approaches with Galway and Kilkenny about to renew rivalry in Sunday’s All-Ireland final, Antrim officials are left to ponder a summer of under-achievement.
Another Ulster title may have been won but a depressing defeat to Westmeath in the Leinster championship was followed by an All-Ireland qualifier humiliation at the hands of Limerick.
Yet while the Saffrons appear in the eyes of many to have regressed, county chairman Jim Murray is prepared to shine a light to the future.
Murray confirms that he is “more than delighted” with the calibre of nominees for the vacant post of county hurling team manager.
The rather sudden exit of Jerry Wallace prompted the county board to go back to the drawing board in their search for a new team boss.
Now Murray believes that the gloom which has prevailed in Antrim lately will be replaced by optimism.
“I must say that I am more than delighted with the calibre of people who are in the hunt for the hurling manager’s job at this point in time,” says Murray.
PJ O’Mullan, Michael Johnston, Gregory O’Kane and Kevin Ryan are understood to be in the running for the post.
“I think the job of managing Antrim still carries some prestige in a hurling context and this will be proved shortly,” states Murray. “Our championship semi-finals are not due to be played until the weekend after next so maybe we could have someone in place by the time the final takes place.”
Meanwhile, St Gall’s have now fixed their sights even more firmly on retaining their football crown following their exit from the hurling championship.
The Milltown club boasts several dual players but the focus will now be on yet another football honour now that their hurling aspirations have been laid to rest for another year.
Karl Stewart, C J McGourty, Sean Kelly, Andrew McLean, Kieran McGourty, Kevin Niblock, Sean Burke and Anto Healy are the big guns in the St Galls side while Cargin will look to the McCann brothers Michael and Tómas, Kevin O’Boyle, Tony Scullion and Justin Crozier for inspiration.