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Back In The Day - Antrim hurlers suffer crushing defeat to Offaly - The Irish News, July 25, 1999

A WORD IN YOUR EAR...Offaly captain Brian Whelahan consoles his Antrim counterpart Gary O’Kane after All-Ireland Hurling Championship quarter-final
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All-Ireland SHC quarter-final: Antrim 0-12 Offaly 4-22

ONE Seamus is going but another might be staying.

The one declaring his intention to depart was Dunloy half-back Seamus McMullan, the 31-year-old ready to retire after Offaly showed Antrim the championship door once again.

However, the player feels his club colleague and county manager Seamus Elliott should stay on in the Saffron job despite the 22 point beating in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

“There’s no better man in the county, he’s proved that this year,” commented McMullan. “If Antrim hurling is to progress they have to give him a contract, give him a free rein.

“That’s what he has to get, unlike this year when he didn’t get enough support from the county board. If you don’t have them behind you you are on a beaten docket from the word go.”

Elliott himself seemed not so sure though he is clearly reconsidering his previously stated intention to step down after just one year in charge. Understandably in the aftermath of such a crushing defeat Elliott admitted he felt “negatively minded” but did not close the door totally on the manager’s job.

“We’ll see what comes. I have to sit down with the county board and see where we go from here. We have players on that team that are getting over the hill like Sean Paul McKillop and Seamus McMullan, the mileage is going up.”

Asked about the future of hurling in Antrim Elliott responded: “God, I don’t know. We have to take a look at ourselves after today. We were outplayed, we have no excuses. We trained hard but it didn’t

Unfamiliarity on the biggest stage was given as the explanation for Antrim’s disappointing showing.

“I thought the focus was right but we had players that froze in Croke Park, that has happened Antrim teams for years.

“I don’t know what way you get round it, whether you get a psychiatrist in or what, it’s just not right. After their three goals in the first half to be quite honest our players threw their heads up and that was it.”

Defeat at this level is no shock to the Antrim system which explains why rueful resignation rather than downright dejection hung in the air around their changing room.

All-Ireland MHC quarter-final Wexford 2-17 Antrim 1-9

Antrim succumb to superior Slaneysiders

ANTRIM put in a spirited display against Wexford at Parnell Park on Saturday, but were still beaten comprehensively by the Leinster finalists.

The Saffrons seemed shellshocked by the Slaneysiders’ sprint start in this quarter-final and were down by six points before registering a score.

To their credit, however, Antrim were only four points adrift at the halfway stage.

A resurgence of sorts was inspired by Brian McNaughton when the O’Donovan Rossa man scored a fine goal after good approach play from full-forward Gavin Bell.

Further points from Kevin Elliott, Gerald Armstrong and Bell kept a check on Wexford’s scoring tally.

The thorn in Antrim’s side were the clever partnership of Des Mythem and Jimmy Goggins, both of whom gave the Saffron backline the runaround at times.

It was Bell again who got the first point of the second half which in turn shook Wexford manager Larry Doyle to make his second personnel change of the match. Substitute Barry Lambert came on for JJ Doyle to perk up the slow-to-get-going Wexford attack in the early stages of the second half.

The Wexford backline was a little less generous in the second period with Bell and McNaughton getting closer attention. Lambert scored Wexford’s second and final goal of the game.

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