O'Mullan looks to the positives as Saffrons fall
The result may not have gone in their favour, but Antrim hurling manager PJ O'Mullan was glowing in his positivity for his team's display in their 3-17 to 1-19 defeat to Laois on Saturday.
A number of big performers - including Kevin McKernan, Eddie McCloskey, Liam Watson and CJ McGourty - returned to Saffron colours at Heywood Community School, where the Walsh Cup game was played on the 3G surface.
Antrim conceded a couple of early goals and fell eight points behind before launching a number of spirited spells that took them back to within a point of Seamus Plunkett's side.
O'Mullan spelled out the difference that either side had in their preparations. He said: "I spoke to Seamus and he said they were seven weeks down the line. They are playing inter-county teams and college teams every week.
"We are three and a half weeks down the line, we have played a couple of games, but not of that standard. To stick with them for 70 minutes and to be in injury time and still have a chance is very encouraging.
"And it's worth remembering that we were without seven or eight boys who we would consider starting material. The signs are very encouraging."
Antrim now have a fixture against Queen's this Thursday in the Conor McGurk Tournament, to be played at the Dub, before taking on Dublin in the next round of the Walsh Cup at Parnell Park next weekend.
In the opening fixture of the Conor McGurk Tournament, Derry found some serious goal-scoring form to down their north-west neighbours Donegal on a scoreline of 6-21 to 2-19 at the Queen's Playing Fields.
After hitting four goals in the first-half, Tom McLean's Oak Leafers then limited Ray Durack's men to a mere eight points in the second period.
The ever-reliable Ruairi Convery finished as the top scorer with 2-6, while Shane Farren and Mickey Conway hit 1-1 each after coming off the bench.
Derry now face St Mary's next Saturday.