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Antrim boss Gleeson has sights on second trophy within a week

Double aim: Darren Gleeson is looking for a second triumph
Double aim: Darren Gleeson is looking for a second triumph
John Campbell

By John Campbell

It will be a case of friendly foes meeting up again in one sense when Antrim confront Offaly in the Kehoe Cup hurling final tomorrow.

Offaly boss Michael Fennelly is the current Kilkenny centre-half-back while his Antrim counterpart is Darren Gleeson who was between the posts when Tipperary beat Fennelly's county in last year's All-Ireland final.

Tomorrow both managers will be keen to strike out for early success and in the case of Gleeson the challenge will be to try and mastermind two trophy triumphs within a week.

Last weekend the Saffrons lifted the Conor McGurk Cup by overcoming Down in the decider and Gleeson understandably feels that another helping of silverware will further boost morale for the upcoming Allianz League.

With Domhnall Nugent, Gerard Walsh and Niall McKenna bedding down comfortably beside more experienced players such as Neil McManus, Alec Delargy and Ciaran Johnston, Antrim have already acquired a fluency and drive that augur well for their prospects.

But they will have noted Offaly's 8-18 to 3-18 semi-final win over Meath last weekend when Oisin Kelly, Liam Langton and Sean Clearly shared in their goal-rush.

Manager Fennelly has been charged with improving Offaly's fortunes in the hurling sphere and sees the Kehoe Cup as an avenue for redemption for the county.

Offaly were viewed in the past as one of the power bases of hurling in Leinster but that has not quite been the case in more recent years.

The team get the opportunity tomorrow to flash a message of defiance and can obviously take heart from their performance against Meath.

But in scoring terms they are unlikely to profit to such an extent tomorrow.

The Ulster side's whirlwind campaign of action since early December has helped to put a decided spring in their step and should they remain solid at the back for the most part, then a second early-season bonus will be within their gambit.

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