Cushendall can realise All-Ireland glory dream
One of Ulster hurling's legendary figures is backing Ruairi Og, Cushendall to go on and win the All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship title following their shock semi-final victory over fancied Sarsfields (Galway).
Terence McNaughton won eight Antrim championship medals and seven Ulster honours with Cushendall as well as garnering six Ulster titles and an All Star before going on to manage his county from 2006 to 2009.
McNaughton believes that the current Ruairi Og side has morphed into a fiercely competitive, cohesive, ambitious unit that will not be fazed by having to meet a powerful Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) side in the decider.
"While this Cushendall team has grown over the last few years, this is the first year they have shown real character and courage," declared McNaughton.
"They could have lost games in the Antrim and Ulster championships over recent months but they showed that they can just keep going even when the odds are against them and that's a great quality.
"This is the sign of a team that is maturing and this was fully reflected by the way in which they beat Sarsfields."
If Cushendall's win at the weekend shook the hurling world, then McNaughton predicts that another seismic shock could be in store.
"I don't think it was just the fact that Cushendall beat Sarsfields that was the surprise, it was more the margin and manner of their victory," he added.
"When you think about it, 3-12 to 1-6 is as comprehensive as it gets, but I know that the boys will be keeping their feet on the ground in the build-up to the All-Ireland final.
"An All-Ireland final is a whole new experience for this team but they have shown that they can take things in their stride."