Hurling and camogie

We need to look at ourselves not who's managing us: Antrim hurler Eoghan Campbell

Eoghan Campbell (number nine) says the Antrim players need to focus on competing for 70 minutes after almost suffering relegation from the Joe McDonagh Cup this season Picture: Seamus Loughran

ANTRIM hurler Eoghan Campbell says it doesn’t matter who is managing the senior squad next season, insisting the onus is on the players to make big improvements.

It is understood the four-man management team of Dominic McKinley, Terence McNaughton, Neal Peden and Gary O’Kane are considering stepping down from their roles after Antrim beat Kildare in last weekend’s relegation/promotion play-off tie to secure their Joe McDonagh Cup status next season.

Afterwards, McKinley hinted he may step aside.

“I certainly believe these players have come on this year… This will possibly be my last term. I’ve managed the senior team three of four times now. It’s maybe up to other people to get an opportunity.”

The four-man management team stepped into the breach in the middle of last season and steadied the ship.

Despite finishing their season in a relegation/promotion play-off game, progress has been made in 2018.

Campbell, though, pointed to the team’s inability to play for a full 70 minutes in games and had no sympathy for the side ending up in an end-of-season play-off.

“It was down to ourselves because we don’t play for the full 70 minutes,” said Campbell.

“It’s something we have to address within the county. We put ourselves in this position and we had to get out of it.”

Antrim lost their Division 1B status this year despite pushing Galway and Dublin all the way in early round games.

“I’d be more critical of our season, to be honest,” Campbell insisted.

“You can say there was a puck here, a puck there – but there were games we should have won convincingly and we didn’t. That’s our fault. We didn’t finish off games.

“Against Kerry in the Joe McDonagh, we were 10 points up and we couldn’t do it. Against Westmeath, we were down and then were two points up and we couldn’t hold on.

“So I think it’s a flaw in our team. I wouldn’t put it down to bad luck – it’s something in the team and we need to look at ourselves. If we can find the answer to that we can do well. But it’s finding that answer.”

Asked about the uncertainty over the future of the management team, Campbell said: “It’s up the management what they want to do. Whoever manages us, we’ll hurl for them. I think that’s what we need to do – we shouldn’t care who’s managing us – we just need to work as players and look at ourselves.”

Campbell was delighted Antrim will be playing Joe McDonagh Cup next season and hailed the younger members of the panel that made an impression late in the season.

“The Joe McDonagh is so, so tight. I’ve learned that you have to be focused for the full 70 minutes, and if we can learn that for next year we can do better.”

“We have some fantastic young players. The likes of Keelan [Molloy] and Eoin [O’Neill] and there are a few other ones in Dunloy who are good enough and a few from Ballycastle.

“Keelan came in and did well. He’s a fantastic hurler and James McNaughton as well. James can be one of the best hurlers in the county. If we can get the young hurlers in and groom them we can do well next year.”

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Hurling and camogie

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