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PJ will call on 'Dall when time comes

By Declan Bogue

Antrim hurling manager PJ O'Mullan Jnr has pledged to grant the Ruairi Óg Cushendall players some time to come to terms with their All-Ireland final loss to Na Piarsaigh on St Patrick's Day, before they are asked to join up with the county squad.

A number of Ruairi Óg players are expected to be in harness for the Christy Ring Cup, but none of them are expected to be on the plane today for tomorrow's dead-rubber game against London (Ruislip, 2pm).

"We are meeting them next and see how they are. That's where we are with them but they need some downtime for the next ten days or so," O'Mullan told The Belfast Telegraph.

On the league campaign to date, which has floundered with defeats to Westmeath and Carlow leaving promotion an impossibility after early wins over Derry and Kildare, he said: "It's something I have said, and I have said it all along, it is a reality check. No other county in this league would have been able to cope with what we have had to cope with. We are missing eight or nine of our top players.

"It's not do-able. We have talent, but it's all very young and needs nurtured. A disappointing league surely, but we have a lot of work to do to get out of that league."

This weekend represents an opportunity for players to nail down a squad place, with O'Mullan promising: "We will be changing our squad after these matches for the Christy Ring."

He adds: "It's a chance for players to put the hand up and show that Antrim hurling really cares, that it means something to them.

"That's what we will be looking for, we will be changing the team about a bit and we want people to put their hands up and say they want to be a part of this year, to help Antrim improve."

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