It's time for Saffrons to step it up: O'Mullan
The preliminary sparring is over - the fight for credibility starts here.
That's the sharp message Antrim hurling boss PJ O'Mullan has delivered to his squad as UCD, a side composed entirely of inter-county players, prepare to ask questions in today's Walsh Cup clash at The Dub.
And with the Saffrons meeting Armagh in the Conor McGurk Tournament tomorrow, it promises to be a busy weekend for O'Mullan and his players.
Antrim have already lost to Laois and Dublin in the competition - they conceded 6-42 in the process - and although they have beaten Queen's and UUJ in the Conor McGurk Tournament, O'Mullan is adamant that the early-season honeymoon period has ended.
"If we are serious about getting out of Division 2A in the league, we have to be shaping up from here on in," said O'Mullan.
"We have spent the past few weeks looking at new players and formations but now high-intensity hurling will be required. We will have more of our experienced players back, the motivation will be much greater and the fact that the match is in Belfast should give us an advantage.
"I've told the boys that the fight for credibility is on."
While O'Mullan has watched some of his fringe players make their bid for regular recognition in the side, he nonetheless makes it clear that the county's tried and trusted warriors will be back in the trenches today.
"We have people like Neal McAuley, Conor Johnston and Conor McKinley among others back on board and of course Eddie McCloskey, Liam Watson, CJ McGourty, Ciaran Clarke and a few others have been catching the eye," pointed out O'Mullan.
"It will be good to have a raft of experience back again. The newer players will have a part to play but it's essential that we get consistency in terms of results."
The Conor McGurk Tournament moves forward with Queen's facing UUJ today (12.00pm) and an attractive fare tomorrow when Antrim and Armagh meet (12.00pm) before Donegal and Down (1.30pm).