St Brigid's keen to hurl out a boost for Antrim
Antrim have certainly not had their sorrows to seek on the hurling front this year but as the curtain begins to come down on what has been a traumatic campaign, the county could yet enjoy a much-needed double boost.
Tomorrow, St Brigid's Cloughmills could bring silverware to the county by beating Eoghan Rua Coleraine in the Ulster Intermediate Club Hurling final at the end of a week in which GAA presidential candidate John Horan urged that more emphasis should be put on the Saffrons' hurling plight.
It's at the All Saints club's complex in Ballymena that St Brigid's will bid to shine a light within a county that has shouldered several blows on and off the pitch this year.
St Brigid's manager Geoff Laverty would certainly welcome the arrival of provincial silverware and also the launch of a concerted bid that could perhaps culminate in Antrim making progress at national level.
"As a club, we have had to be patient for the past four years after losing out to Lisbellaw in our previous final appearance but now we have an opportunity to get our hands on an Ulster trophy and we want to take it," said Laverty. "And it's good to note too that Antrim's current situation is being highlighted by people who obviously are aware of our situation here."
Laverty's side lived dangerously before overcoming Keady in the semi-final last weekend (1-14 to 0-12) and tomorrow he will look to James Doherty, Michael Devlin and Liam Cassley to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
It was a somewhat fortuitous goal from Doherty that enabled St Brigid's to cross the line ahead of a plucky Keady side and Laverty is understandably urging his charges to dig even deeper tomorrow.
"We have trained harder than ever this year and the players have been coming on leaps and bounds which is very encouraging," stated Laverty. "We are in a good place but the fact of the matter is that we have won nothing yet."
Eoghan Rua, who had a comfortable 1-18 to 2-4 win over Bredagh in their semi-final, will look to the talented McGoldrick clan to carry the fight to their opponents.
Sean Leo McGoldrick has for some time been an established member of the Derry football team but his free-taking is now proving crucial to the Eoghan Rua drive for provincial glory.
His brothers Ciaran, Barry and Colm have been fixtures for some time in the north west although Barry was forced off prematurely in the semi-final and could still be doubtful for tomorrow's decider.
A St Brigid's win would certainly provide a ray of encouragement for Antrim going into 2017, especially in the wake of Horan's call for help to be given to the county.
Leinster Council chairman Horan stressed: "I know there has been a strong focus on Galway lately and the fact that they don't get to play Leinster Championship matches at home among other things but I think we have to look, too, at a county like Antrim.
"You can't forget Antrim at this time because there is no doubt they are struggling. They are a great, strong base of hurling but from a competitive point of view it's not happening for them on the national stage."
Antrim officials have already welcomed his assessment and even though the side retained the Ulster senior title, this is viewed as conferring little more than local bragging rights.
One official said: "Obviously league relegation and the Christy Ring Cup final replay defeat were heavy blows to absorb but we must focus on the future.
"We all want to see St Brigid's win and go onto the All-Ireland stage."