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Antrim's rising stars face tough challenge

By John Campbell

Antrim hurling manager Kevin Ryan has not been afraid to give youth a chance at senior level and still believes that the manner in which his young guns are maturing bodes well for the future.

"We have to be patient," cautioned Waterford native Ryan as Antrim prepare to confront Limerick in Division 1B of the Allianz League tomorrow.

"Rome wasn't built in a day. These younger players are beginning to come through at the higher level but they will have to be given time to adjust to the pressures," he said.

"Limerick will be in good heart following their draw against Cork last Sunday and will certainly be a massive test for us."

Antrim's biggest problem will be trying to cope with the wiles and scoring power of Shane Dowling and Wayne McNamara in particular. Dowling scored 11 out of the 17 points that Limerick recorded against Cork last weekend.

Niall McKenna, Daniel McKernan and Ciaran Clarke can bring their considerable talents into play up front if skipper Neil McManus and Ciaran Johnson can get a foothold in midfield while Chris McGuinness will help underpin a defence that includes quality players in Conor McKinley, Simon McCrory and Neal McAuley.

Paul Shiels, Conor Carson and Darren Hamill complete an energetic attack but could find problems in combating Limerick's physicality.

Antrim showed skill and perseverance against Wexford last Sunday but will need to embellish these qualities if they are to emerge with something from tomorrow's contest.

Derry manager Ger Rogan, disappointed with the setback against Kerry last Sunday, has amended his line-up for the trip to Westmeath tomorrow.

Sean McCullough, Brendan Rogers and Chris Convery come in for Ruairi McCloskey, Tiarnan McCloskey and Paul Cleary.

Antrim (v Limerick); C O'Connell; C McKinley, M Bradley, S McCrory; N McAuley, O McFadden, N McManus, C Johnston; P Shiels, C Carson, N McKenna; D McKernan, D Hamill, C Clarke.

Derry (v Westmeath): D McDermott; M Warnock, A Rafferty, E McGuckin; S McCullagh, L Hinphey, K Hinphey; O McCloskey, S McCloskey; B Rogers, P McCloskey, A Grant; J O'Dwyer, D O'Neill, C Convery.

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