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Saffrons need to build on good start: Gleeson

 

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Hot shot: James McNaughton can rack up scores for Antrim

Hot shot: James McNaughton can rack up scores for Antrim

Hot shot: James McNaughton can rack up scores for Antrim

Antrim hurling manager Darren Gleeson is urging his players to engage a higher gear when they face Mayo in Division 2A of the Allianz Hurling League at Loughgiel tomorrow.

Having got the better of Wicklow in their opening game, the Saffrons are conscious that a second successive victory would potentially thrust them into the frame for promotion.

Gleeson, though, warns that Mayo, who have operated just outside the top bracket for some time, could pose a threat to his team's ambitions.

"We know that the league is delicately balanced and the important thing is that we need to get more points on the board and quickly. Having said that, ground conditions can be tricky at the present because of the recent rainfall, but Loughgiel usually boasts a good surface," points out Gleeson.

Having won the Conor McGurk Cup, reached the final of the Kehoe Cup and launched their league campaign with a win over Wicklow, Antrim have already endured a rather busy schedule, even though the season is scarcely up and running.

Gleeson, though, is keen to have a full squad at his disposal as quickly as possible so that Antrim will be well-armed for the second-half of their league itinerary.

"We have players like Ciaran Clarke who are working hard at their rehab in order to get back into the squad, and even against Wicklow on Sunday we had lads who did not make the team and were disappointed," explains Gleeson.

James McNaughton, Niall McKenna, Neil McManus, Alec Delargy and Keelan Molloy are among the players who can help to keep Antrim in top gear against a Mayo side that is laced with experience and craft.

In Division 2B, Down will host Roscommon at Ballycran (12.30pm) while Derry will travel to face London at Ruislip (2pm).

Cormac O'Doherty was in hot form when Derry beat Down last Sunday and could cut loose again against London.

There are two all-Ulster ties in Division 3A, with Armagh hosting Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds (2pm), while Tyrone face a stiff test against Donegal at Omagh (2pm).

In Division 3B, Cavan will host neighbours Fermanagh at Kingspan Breffni (2pm).

Belfast Telegraph