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Revitalised McCambridge hopes to step up Saffrons' title tilt

By Declan Bogue

It's not the usual sort of pre-match build-up you expect from an inter-county hurler, but it suited Antrim Under-21 captain Ryan McCambridge.

Fed up with being on the road with county and club for so long, and having tasted defeats both great and small, he ducked out for a five-week break in Canada with his girlfriend Jennifer.

"I felt I needed it after all the hurling I had played this year. I was too flat out for too long, so I went away for a bit of the summer," he reflected, ahead of today's All-Ireland Under-21 hurling semi-final against Waterford.

They were based in Ottawa and stayed with his aunt Kerry Mortimor, who incidentally was part of the Canada Eastern team that reached the Ladies' football final of the GAA's World Games and lost to New York.

He recalled: "We just travelled around and saw a bit of Canada and a bit of America. We got out on the lake and did a bit of watersports, wakeboarding and skiing."

During his travels, however, he was being kept in the loop by his county manager Ollie Bellew.

"I was looking forward to getting back to the hurling. Ollie was keeping me updated about how the team was going, who was playing well. He made sure to keep me well up to date," he said.

He captains the Antrim team that takes on Waterford today (Semple Stadium, 4pm). They face a tall order against a team that contains largely the same group of players who won the minor All-Ireland title in 2013.

"Of course it is going to be hard to mark the likes of Austin Gleeson, Stephen Bennett and Shane Bennett but we just need to stay as tight as we can and try to cancel them out," said the Cushendall man.

And he refused to get caught up in the talk of a tough year as a whole for Antrim hurling. He stated: "I just put it out of my head as much as I can. I just focus on the here and now when it comes to trying to hurl.

"It's in the past, it's over and done with and we have to look forward to the next season with seniors and minors alike and worry about the Under-21s at the minute."

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