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Victorious Ryan still keen to cut out the errors

By Colm Keys

There is a refreshing honesty and directness to Antrim hurling manager Kevin Ryan when he talks. After this victory – only Antrim's second since they joined the ranks of the Leinster Championship in 2009 – he wasn't going to dodge the big questions.

They weren't going to come any bigger than one about the moment of madness that will rob them of Karl Stewart for at least the next match against Laois.

The St Gall's man was brought on to add some experience when he replaced Christopher McGuinness, but instantly he got involved with Westmeath wing-back Tommy Doyle and a red card followed.

The craziness of the situation was that it probably creates some sort of record, sent off before a second of play had taken place.

"The minute I saw it I knew he was going to be sent off," reflected Ryan.

"The linesman didn't see the other lad hitting him first.

"The fact of it is that he didn't even get a yellow card, so the linesman didn't see it. But yeah, he (Stewart) deserved to be sent off."

Thankfully, Stewart's absence was hardly felt as Antrim drove for home in the closing quarter.

There is potential there, summed up by Ryan when he said: "I still feel there is a lot more in us.

"We need to loosen up a little bit more.

"It is still a reasonable score; 3-18 is good enough for most games.

"I just feel we have the players and we just need to bring it out. I'd like to see more points on the board.

"Even though they were going for goals a bit ... "

In interviews of late, the path to a Leinster final has been brought up a few times to him and, as if to dampen down those expectations, he added: "I still think there is a good future there for them regardless what happens in the next few weeks.

"People are talking about Galway and I am getting sick of it. It is understandable looking at the draw.

"It would be great to get to a Leinster semi-final."

Before they get there, Ryan is keen to brush up on some fundamental hurling skills and gain a little bit of in-game craft.

"We made one or two mistakes," he added. "And in other games it might have cost us.

"Even that last goal that Westmeath got, we took a quick sideline into the middle. Kind of silly stuff, and not really thinking about it.

"Particularly in the first-half. If you don't recognise the mistake you will not improve."

A lot done. More to do.

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