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Wounded Saffrons seeking redemption

All-Ireland SHC


Darren Gleeson. Credit: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Darren Gleeson. Credit: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Darren Gleeson. Credit: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The task is simple for the Antrim hurlers this weekend: win, and the momentum they gathered up through the early summer along with all the hard work will have been backed up.

A win over Laois today will leave them back in the All-Ireland Championship with a route into round one of the qualifiers next weekend against a Munster quarter or semi-finalist.

The 18-point drubbing by Dublin in Navan will have to be put to the very back of their minds for them to copper-fasten the earlier National League performances in beating Clare and drawing with Wexford in Belfast, while they have already beaten Laois well this season.

Almost as soon as the Dublin game was over, manager Darren Gleeson was shoving it into a speck in the rearview mirror.

“When was the last time Antrim played against that level of intensity in a Championship setting?” Gleeson asked reporters. “They’ll learn from it. We’ve a game in two weeks’ time, let’s see what happens there. A win brings you back into the Championship. So we have to learn from that and get back at it.

“The learnings were there and it wasn’t from the want of planning for it, the execution just didn’t happen for whatever reason. We’ll reflect and look at ourselves first as a management, coaching team and what we brought to the table. Then we’ll bring it to the players and ask the questions of them and see how we can get back.”

The view is not to be too harsh on the Saffrons after the Dublin defeat. Former goalkeeper Shane Elliott wrote in his column that: “The top teams have a tremendous ability to take it up a gear come the Championship as they can pace themselves through the league.”

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The challenge for Antrim is to produce some Championship form. It starts now.  

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