Antrim must be wary of backlash from rivals, says astute McKinley
When Antrim gained promotion to Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League, they knew that they were about to undergo an ongoing forensic examination of their credentials.
That's exactly how it proved against All-Ireland champions Galway last weekend with Saffrons skipper Conor McKinley admitting that the dressing room was littered with "tired and sore bodies" following an exhausting contest.
There is to be no let-up either since the Ulster champions must now take on Dublin at Corrigan Park, Belfast tomorrow knowing that victory is essential if they are to entertain any hopes of possible promotion.
Dublin slumped to a surprisingly heavy defeat to Offaly last Sunday (2-25 to 1-15) but manager Pat Gilroy has issued a clarion call to his troops for a better performance tomorrow.
McKinley is conscious that the Dubs will have victory very much in their sights and is steeled for a robust backlash.
"I thought the lads put in a huge effort last Sunday. We were hurting coming off the park but our recovery went well and now we're up for battle again," stated McKinley.
"But we know that Dublin will come to us looking for the points to make up for the way they lost to Offaly."
In Division 2B, Derry hope to pocket their first win when they make the short hop to Letterkenny to face Donegal.
Oak Leaf boss Collie McGurk has been forced to reconstruct his line-up following a litany of defections but believes that his team's spirit and cohesion can now surface to better effect.
Armagh will have home advantage against Mayo in the same division and will be hoping to make up ground following their defeat against Wicklow last weekend.
Down have home advantage against Wicklow at Ballycran and if Paul Sheehan and Danny Toner replicate the scoring form they showed in the win over Derry, then the visitors may return empty handed.