Hurling and camogie

Antrim hurling can be an All-Ireland force - O'Mullan

PJ O'Mullan (second left) celebrates with Joey Scullion, Benny McCarry, Eddie McCloskey and Martin Scullion after Loughiel beat Coolderry in the 2012 All-Ireland final

PJ O’MULLAN JR says it’s time for an Antrim man to take charge of the county’s senior hurlers and insists there is sufficient talent in the county to reach an All-Ireland quarter-final at least.

O’Mullan stepped down as Loughgiel Shamrocks manager following last Sunday’s narrow defeat to rivals Cushendall in the county Championship semi-finals.

After Kevin Ryan resigned as Antrim’s senior and U21 hurling manager last month, O’Mullan admitted he would be interested in having a crack at the job. O’Mullan won an All-Ireland title, four Antrim and Ulster crowns in his six years with the Shamrocks.

“I feel I know what it takes,” said O’Mullan.

“I would give it everything I had for a few years. I know what the financial implications are in taking teams down south. I know the players. I know every club team. I’ve seen every Championship game.

“At the end of the day, I’m an Antrim man and I think Antrim people should be running Antrim hurling. But if the county board want to try someone else, I’ll walk away from it.”

Even though he stepped down from managing his club, O’Mullan would be energised by a new challenge.

He added: “I’m a hurling man at the end of the day. I go all over the country watching games, so it’s going to be hard sitting back and watching it. Anyway, the wife will want me out of the house!”

O’Mullan has been nominated for the vacancy, while former Kilkenny goalkeeper Michael Walsh and former Antrim star Gregory O’Kane have been linked to the post. Regardless of who the county executive appoint as Ryan’s successor, O’Mullan firmly believes there is plenty of talent in Antrim to be competitive at the highest level.

“That game last Sunday [between Loughgiel and Cushendall] would have graced any county in Ireland," he added. 

"The players on show would have graced any county in Ireland. There is more than enough talent in Antrim to at least get to an All-Ireland quarter-final, maybe even an All-Ireland semi-final. If all the players really bought into it… there are other counties in Ireland that would be crying out for the talent in Antrim. Individually, absolutely Antrim have the players. It’s about getting everyone to buy into the thing.

“To be honest, I think we’re too far distant from the clubs. I think there should be a big push to get the county team around the clubs so that the young coaches and players see what it’s about. But there is an abundance of talent and don’t let anyone tell you any different. It’s there.

“I’m not just talking about Loughgiel and Cushendall, there are a couple of players in most clubs in Antrim, more in some clubs than others.”

O’Mullan, though, was still coming to terms with the Shamrocks’ defeat to Cushendall last Sunday.

“Managing Loughgiel was almost like a second job. The hours, the man hours, the phone calls, the preparation and everything that goes into it," he said.

“I just felt that I let people down last weekend by not getting a result. But I suppose, in the cold light of day, when I look back on it all, I couldn’t have done much more other than make a switch here or there. But you have to move on.”

Hurling and camogie

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