Antrim manager Dinny Cahill has two special reasons for hoping his side can overcome Laois in their National Hurling League Division Two encounter at Casement Park tomorrow (2.30pm).
Victory would not only extend the Saffrons’ unbeaten run in the competition and guarantee a huge crowd for the eagerly-awaited home tie with high-flying Clare next weekend but it would undoubtedly offer Cahill (pictured right) a substantial degree of satisfaction following the rather disappointing season he spent in charge of the midlanders in the wake of his previous term as Antrim boss.
While the visit of Ger O’Loughlin’s men to Belfast next weekend is already creating interest, Cahill is much more concerned with ensuring that his players keep their eye on the ball for tomorrow’s contest.
“Laois are always difficult opponents and last year they beat Antrim in the All Ireland Qualifiers. That in itself emphasises just how tough tomorrow’s game will be,” insists Cahill.
He is still without Johnny Campbell who is injured, as well as Karl Stewart and Kieran McGourty who are involved in the St Gall’s All Ireland Club football final preparations.
Paul Shields though is expected to have some input although Conor McKinley is still out.
Neil McManus and Liam Watson have been influential for Antrim in the league to date while Aaron Graffin and Karl McKeegan continue as defensive bulwarks. Ciaran Herron’s versatility is also a plus-factor.
Gerard Monan is anxious to see his Down side maximise home advantage against Carlow in Ballygalget tomorrow.
Down are still pointless after two outings.
“Maybe our fortunes will improve,” muses Monan.
Armagh’s hurlers meet London in Crossmaglen tomorrow in a game which will precede the big Armagh v Kildare NFL tie.