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Saffrons face an Offaly big task to retain their place among the elite


By John Campbell

Antrim face an uphill battle to retain their place in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League.

Tomorrow they travel to face Offaly at Birr where even a win will not ease their plight as they must still face a relegation fight with their likely opponents either Laois or Dublin.

When the Saffrons commenced their league campaign, optimism abounded that they might make progress, but defeats against Galway, Dublin, Laois and Limerick have tarnished morale and reinforced the theory that the team has still some way to go before they can rub shoulders with the big guns.

Nonetheless the Ulster champions can reflect on a few rays of hope.

The emergence of Joe Maskey as a player of note, the leadership skills of skipper Conor McKinley and the burgeoning talent of Donal McKinley and Conor McCann - but they must also take on board the fact that in their most recent games against Laois and Limerick their performances were sub-standard.

"We didn't get going to the extent that we should have in those two games which was particularly disappointing," admits joint manager Dominic McKinley.

In Division 2B, Donegal, who have already beaten Derry and Down, will be hoping to claim a third Ulster scalp when they meet Armagh - while Down host unbeaten Mayo at Ballycran.

Meanwhile, Katie McAleese, Kathryn Donnelly and Orlagh O'Hara will spearhead Antrim's challenge against Westmeath in the Littlewoods National Camogie League at Cargin.

Down face a tricky assignment against Carlow while Derry face a tough task against Laois in Division Two.

In the All-Ireland Schools Senior A camogie final, Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle will meet Loreto, Kilkenny at Darver (Co Louth) today (2pm).

The north Antrim school have showed impressive form in reaching the decider and in Roisin McCormick, Meabh Kelly and Catherine McShane they have players who can give a lead.

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