Hurling and camogie

'Antrim must reach same standards against Laois': McKinley

Antrim joint-manager Dominic McKinley. Picture by Seamus Loughran.

ANTRIM joint-manager Dominic McKinley says his side cannot afford to allow their mentality to change after promising performances in their opening two National League games.

After running All-Ireland champions Galway close in the opening round and then suffering an agonising last-gasp defeat by Dublin in Belfast, the Saffrons seem well set mentally for the rest of their campaign.

But the bottom line is that they have yet to pick up a point and the positivity of those two displays will count for very little if they fail to reach the same standards in Portlaoise on Saturday night.

“We're pleased to a certain extent but when we reflect on it, we could be sitting top of the league now with four points,” said McKinley.

“That's the way we're looking at it. At the start could we have seen this happening? No, but the way the players are training and their attitude, that's reflected in what we're doing on the field.

“There's a lot of energy about our team at the minute, management and everything. The players are working seriously hard and all we need is wee breaks here and there to get us over the line with a result.

“The two matches will help our players immensely, there's no doubt about that. We still need to win one. The big thing is the mindset.

“Laois have been away ahead of us this last number of years. They're tough opposition and we need to be at it again. The mindset and attitude has to be 100 per cent right or it's going to be a tough day there as well.

“We have to lift it at training to get them to this level, but we need to stay at this level. If we don't stay at this level, our performance will drop and Laois will be a serious, serious challenge.

“To me it's touch and go, whoever performs on the night. I'd say if we're both being honest, both teams have earmarked this for points.”

Antrim will still be without Ciaran Clarke, who will be sidelined for another couple of weeks yet with a chipped bone in his ankle.

McKinley is also hopeful the long-serving Arron Graffin, who got married last weekend, will be available to play some part after returning from honeymoon.

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