Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Hurling: Antrim seek new way forward as Wallace exits

The Antrim county board is wasting no time in seeking to replace Jerry Wallace as hurling team manager.

The Cork man tendered his resignation at the weekend, but the Antrim executive committee have already met and it is expected that the appointment of an interim manager will be rubber-stamped shortly.

And while the meeting was taking place, the squad trained with selector Collie McFall and liaison officer Frankie Quinn supervising the session.

Both are expected to continue in the roles they have been fulfiling in the recent past.

McFall has given lengthy service to the St John’s club and has also had an important input into the Antrim set-up while Quinn, the current Antrim board secretary, is a former Ulster Council Hurling Development Officer.

He is one of the most knowledgeable authorities on the sport in the entire country and has helped to spearhead a number of initiatives designed to propagate hurling in the province.

Antrim are due to meet Limerick in the All-Ireland Hurling Championship Qualifiers on June 30 and have been given a bye into the Ulster final on July 8 when they will meet Armagh, Derry or Down at Casement Park.

Sambo McNaughton and Gregory O’Kane both resigned recently as Antrim selectors triggering speculation that there was unrest in the camp.

Confirmation of Wallace’s resignation has done little to defuse this, but county board chairman Jim Murray has issued a rallying call to players, officials and supporters in advance of the two hugely important games that now loom.

“Obviously we were all gutted by that loss to Westmeath in the Leinster championship, but we have a fully fit squad available to us at the minute,” says Murray.

“They trained last night and our whole focus now is on trying to win against Limerick and to retain our Ulster title next month.

“We as a county committee are very grateful to Jerry Wallace for what he did in the short time he was with us and we wish him well for the future.”

When Antrim’s involvement in both the provincial and All-Ireland championship ends the county board will then put in place a procedure for choosing a more long-term county team boss.

“The interim manager will oversee these forthcoming fixtures in the All-Ireland qualifiers and the Ulster final and then we will take an in-depth look into the future,” adds chairman Murray.

“It’s important that we maintain our drive for success. There are a lot of good players in this Antrim squad — the challenge now is for us to flourish as a team.”