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Antrim to target a move clear of danger

By John Campbell

The prospect of back to back victories looms for Antrim in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League on Sunday when they take on improving Offaly at Casement Park.

Since their elevation to the top tier of the league, the Saffrons have not often enjoyed consecutive successes such is the fiercely competitive environment in which they find themselves.

Yet manager Kevin Ryan believes that a fusion of home advantage, the confidence gained from last Sunday’s win over Carlow and the desire to avoid a potential relegation play-off can provide his team with the impetus to collect four points within the space of a week.

It may not guarantee them safety but it will certainly bolster morale and engender renewed enthusiasm.

“At this stage it is all about performance as far as we are concerned. The important thing on Sunday is that we play for the full seventy minutes. Our problem is that we haven’t been putting it together for long enough in some of our games to date,” points out Ryan.

Against Carlow, his side showed a greater degree of cohesion while their finishing power, best exemplified by skipper Neil McManus, was a feature of their victory.

McManus will again be a key figure on Sunday while Simon McCrory, Aaron Graffin, Neal McAuley and Paul Shiels will prop up the defence that will nonetheless face a stiff test against an Offaly attack in which talisman Shane Dooley has been in outstanding form in the league.

Victory for Antrim would certainly set the stage for an exciting climax to a Division 1B campaign that has been highlighted by Limerick’s consistency, the 7-74 they have posted to date testimony to their scoring power.

Meanwhile, Derry face the long haul to Kerry in Division 2A where they will be keen to ease themselves into a safer place in the table. Manager Ger Rogan was less than impressed with the inept performance against Laois last Sunday and is looking for a big all-round improvement..

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