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Antrim have had best preparation possible for Dubs clash: Murphy

Antrim v Dublin, All-Ireland MHC quarter-final: Newry, Today, 6.00pm

By Declan Bogue

Antrim minor hurling manager Collie Murphy has hailed his side's preparation ahead of today's All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin (Newry, throw-in 6pm) as the best possible.

Part of that preparation included having Tipperary's 2010 All-Ireland-winning manager Liam Sheedy take a training session.

"There is a gulf in class between playing teams in Ulster and going into an All-Ireland series. But we are well prepared, we are ready for it, we are keen and eager and we are up for it," said Rossa man Murphy, who was on the Antrim panel that made the 1989 All-Ireland final and also played soccer for Newry City.

"We will go down and give it our best effort. If it is good enough, it's good enough. If it's not, it will not be for want of trying."

A fair chunk of the minor team were in action last month when the county claimed the Celtic Challenge Cup at Under-17 level, beating North Cork 2-17 to 1-12 in Carlow.

The star of that team was Sean Elliott - son of former county hurler Nigel - who hit 1-11 in the final, 1-5 from play.

It led Sheedy to single him out for special praise, stating at the training session that there is no better player on the island at that age.

Murphy explained what the Tipp man brought on his visit. He said: "Sheedy said that he wouldn't be doing anything that we hadn't already been doing before. He just asked for it a wee bit quicker, a wee bit faster, and he demanded more.

"They saw what was expected of them at another level. So if a manager comes in at that level and compliments them, says their stick work is as good if not better than other teams he has worked with, that says it all."

Murphy has been working hard to create the right environment for the young players, acknowledging the strains teenagers can be under with school and part-time work, something he is particularly aware of in his work as a careers guidance counsellor.

This year, Antrim minors have been fed after training and wear the same kit after some sponsorship was procured.

They have been training at the Dunsilly complex under the guidance of elite coach Jackie Carson - former county hurler and father of current senior ace Conor - and it paid off in Ulster when they accounted for Down and then Derry on a scoreline of 3-13 to 2-8 in the provincial decider.

Murphy admits to having done a bit of scouting on Dublin, when they fell to Kilkenny in the Leinster final, 3-15 to 1-17.

He hails manager Fintan Clandillan as "very astute" and flags up the ability of defender Andrew Dunphy, midfielder Mark Grogan and others.

But he feels that he and his backroom team are prepared for the challenge.

"I think if you can get all the factors to go for you, if you can get the players to buy in, if you can get the right management set-up, the right facilities, if you have got the clubs, the parents, you need everybody going in the one direction," he concluded.

Belfast Telegraph


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