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Antrim boosted by fewer missing due to university commitments

Antrim joint football manager Frank Fitzsimons has insisted Antrim will be challenging harder in their group this year than last, after gaining a greater share of his players from university commitments.

“We’ll be stronger this year than we were last year because we had nine or 10 away with the universities last year, we only have four or five away with the universities this year.”

His absences will cost him however, with Niall McKeever and Ricky Johnston lining out for Jordanstown.

Matt Fitzpatrick and Jack Hannigan are with St Mary’s, while Oisin Hamill will be with Antrim.

Owen Gallagher, who misses out the rare chance of playing for his county on his home club’s pitch of Glenavy, is studying in Galway, and they also have a few students in Dublin.

St Mary’s are once again managed by Paddy Tally and he can call upon considerable talent from his own county of Tyrone including Cathal McShane, Conor Meyler, Conall McCann and Kieran McGeary, but Down’s Kevin McKernan is unavailable.

In hurling, the Saffrons management of Terence McNaughton, Dominic McKinley, Neal Pedan and Gary O’Kane will look forward to welcoming Cushendall’s Neil McManus back onto the panel.

McManus spent most of last year travelling, but it is understood that his clubmate Aaron Graffin may not be available to hurl inter-county in 2017.

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