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Passion key to Antrim's future, says Quinn

By John Campbell

A decade spent as Antrim's first-choice hurling goalkeeper - until he finally called time on his inter-county career in 2012 - provides DD Quinn with adequate qualifications to offer a studied assessment of the state of the sport in the county right now.

And, not surprisingly in view of the season which the Saffrons have endured, the prognosis is not good.

As he prepares alongside his Loughgiel club mates for Sunday's important Ulster Club Championship semi-final against Down title holders Ballygalget, Quinn's passion for the welfare of the sport in the county he has served so well is palpable.

"I think Antrim have to strip things back to the bare bones and get the basics right," insisted Quinn. "There is a big need for money to be invested in the nurturing of younger players - it is essential that they want to hurl for Antrim again.

"Whatever it takes in terms of providing gear and incentives, nothing should be spared if we are to have any chance of going forward."

Quinn, whose commitment to the sport is legendary, pulls no punches in his brusque analysis of what he feels is a depressing landscape.

"There are too many boys who don't want to play for Antrim and that's why it is so important to encourage the youth. If you can get good teams coming through that will stick together then you have a chance of success," maintained Quinn.

Four years ago Loughgiel were crowned All-Ireland champions under the baton of manager PJ O'Mullan, but Quinn believes the end of his short-lived term as Antrim boss earlier this year triggered a sequence of disappointing events.

"We have to put that in the past. Our focus is on Ballygalget on Sunday. They have been doing well in Division Two of the league and they have acquired a winning mentality. That kind of side can prove difficult to overcome but that's the challenge facing us," stated Quinn.

And although only very occasional rays of sunlight tend to pierce the hurling gloom in Antrim nowadays, Quinn believes that if Loughgiel were to win the Ulster Club title it might prove the springboard to better things.

He added: "Obviously we're looking no further than Ballygalget but if we manage to get over them then we will look at whoever might be on the horizon after that. It would be great to get back into the All-Ireland series again but we will just take one step at a time."

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