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Laois battle is a real do or die showdown for Antrim: Dillon

 

By John Campbell

It's make or break time for Antrim in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League.

Having lost to Galway and Dublin, the Saffrons face into Saturday's assignment against Laois at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, knowing that defeat will extinguish their aspirations of promotion.

In succumbing to reigning All-Ireland champions Galway by just three points and falling to the Dubs by a solitary point, Antrim offered evidence that they might not be out of place in a higher tier.

But full-back and Ulster GAA Writers Association Hurler of the Year John Dillon lays it on the line in assessing his team's task.

"Obviously while we showed great spirit and commitment as well as a tremendous work ethic against Galway and Dublin, we were unfortunate in that we did not quite manage to come out on the right side in those games," reflects Dillon.

"We are up against it this Saturday. We knew going into Division 1B that every match would be tough but now we have two more away games starting with this one against Laois, while we must also go to Offaly."

Dillon's majestic form coupled with the input of fellow-defenders Aaron Graffin and Matthew Donnelly, the industry of skipper Conor McKinley and the scoring touch of Neil McManus have helped to win Antrim considerable respect if not the league points they undoubtedly crave.

With former Tipperary All-Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy on board and a focus on the proposed new Centre of Excellence at Dunsilly, everything possible is bring done to bolster hurling.

But at the end of the day it's the county team's results that will ultimately frame progress - or lack of it.

"We have several experienced players in the side and there is also a number of younger players beginning to come through which is very encouraging," points out Dillon.

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