Shane showing Sambo’s qualities
Shane McNaughton is proving very much a chip off the old block.
The free-scoring forward will be handed a key role when Antrim make a bold bid to reach the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B final by overcoming fancied Limerick at Casement Park, Belfast on Sunday.
McNaughton not only hopes to once again rack up his now customary points blitz but is anxious to unveil the steel, commitment and rugged pride which were the dominant characteristics of his father ‘Sambo’ during his illustrious career with Cushendall, Antrim and Ulster.
The younger McNaughton finds himself part of an Antrim attack that showed commendable artistry and no little effort in wins to date over Wexford and Laois but like his colleagues he recognises that Limerick will be a tough nut to crack.
“They are always difficult to beat and they are used to playing against quality sides. But we are beginning to have more belief in our ability and I feel this can stand to us when the heat comes on as I am sure it will,” he says.
Manager Jerry Wallace was certainly a relieved man at Casement Park last Sunday when injury-time points from Paul Shiels and Neil McManus fired the Saffrons to an improbable victory over Laois after they had languished behind for a lengthy spell.
That was certainly not the fault of McNaughton who totted up an impressive 1-8 with four of his points coming from frees.
“If we can get into our stride early against Limerick and put a few scores on the board you never know what might happen,” says Wallace.
Aaron Graffin, Neil McAuley and Cormac Donnelly will again be key figures in defence.
“The incentive to reach a play-off will surely help to bring out the best in this Antrim side,” maintains Wallace.