Success can help spark revolution in Antrim, says McCrory
Antrim's steady rise back to Division 1B, and the knock-on effect of glamour teams like Limerick becoming acquainted with Belfast venues such as Corrigan Park, can stand to lead a hurling revolution among the youth of the county, maintains senior captain Simon McCrory.
The St John's man is a hurling development officer in the county and, during his day job working in schools around north Belfast, he sees the spread of the game and believes a high-profile senior team is crucial considering the interest in other sports, especially soccer, in the north of the city.
"I have been at it two years now and some of the kids, especially in some of the schools I go into in north Belfast where the GAA is only developing at the minute, they wouldn't even know what Antrim was," he stated.
"I asked them if they knew any hurlers and they didn't even know what Antrim was."
McCrory has hailed the work of county public relations officer Sean Kelly, who since taking the role two years ago has raised the profile of the county on social media and through posters in schools.
And he also hailed the efforts of club volunteers who are organising day trips for their young members so that they are exposed to hurling at this level.
"There are clubs doing unbelievable work bringing their kids to games," he said.
"Ardoyne were here (last Saturday's Hurling League Division 2A final over Carlow), Davitts were there last week…
"We are becoming more visible, but there is a hell of a lot of work needed. The kids love the game, you bring the game into the school and they are eating out of your hand.
"But it just needs more and more and more investment or else we are just ticking boxes."
In his captain's speech after accepting the Division 2A trophy, McCrory paid warm tribute to the band of vocal Antrim supporters who had a rare chance to cheer meaningful progress after several poor campaigns.
"It's not easy being an Antrim fan. I am a player and I am a fan as well," added McCrory.
"There are certain individuals, a core group and they have stood by us and would never be negative, never stab you in the back. And there are more coming out now that they are starting to see a wee bit of success.
"So, again, that's why I thanked them because they got us over the line."