Hurling and camogie

Antrim sound out Anthony Daly and Anthony Cunningham over managerial hurling vacancy

Anthony Daly, who led the Dublin hurlers to their first Leinster title in 52 years back in 2013, has been approached by Antrim Picture: Seamus Loughran

ANTRIM have sounded out Anthony Daly and Anthony Cunningham about the possibility of taking over the county hurlers next season – while there is also strong support for a locally sourced management team.

The Irish News understands contact has been made to big-hitters Daly and Cunningham but travel distance may be a stumbling block.

Daly was linked to a return to the Dublin hotseat before Cuala manager Mattie Kenny was appointed as Pat Gilroy's successor last weekend.

Former Galway boss Anthony Cunningham, who assisted Gilroy with Dublin until the latter stepped away due to work commitments, is also believed to be on Antrim's radar as a possible successor to the Terence McNaughton and Dominic McKinley-led management team that stepped down at the end of last season.

Daly, a double All-Ireland winner with Clare in the mid-90s, has been in charge of Kilmacud Crokes who lost a county decider to Ballyboden recently.

The pedigree of both Cunningham and Daly is undisputed as the Antrim County Board's three-man committee has set no limits on finding the right people to guide the Glensmen back to Division One hurling next season.

The much-travelled Kevin Ryan met with Antrim officials on Monday night and is keen to have another crack at the job he vacated at the end of the 2015 season.

Ryan has had spells with Offaly and Tyrone since leaving Antrim.

The three-man committee tasked with sourcing Antrim's new management team are John McSparran, Colly Murphy and Ronan Heenan.

If travel distance rules out Cunningham and Daly, many observers feel there is sufficient coaching talent within the county to get Antrim back to the top flight.

Former Antrim attacker Gregory O'Kane would be a popular choice.

He has coaching experience at county and inter-provincial level but the feeling is he has unfinished business with the Dunloy seniors after guiding them to a senior title in 2017 before Loughgiel Shamrocks knocked them out of the semi-finals of this season's championship.

Shane Elliott, who assists O'Kane at the Cuchullain's, would also be an intriguing option for Antrim to consider.

Johnny Campbell, who served Antrim with distinction in the last decade, has also made an excellent impression since joining the sidelines with his club Loughgiel.

Regarded as a tactically astute coach, Campbell guided his club to the 2016 championship, beating Cushendall (All-Ireland finalists earlier that year) in the decider.

It is understood all these names are being considered by the three-man committee.

Likewise, Michael Johnston's name has been mentioned in despatches as the St John's man did remarkably well with Down for a few seasons.

Antrim officials are reluctant to throw the baby out with the bathwater with Neal Peden and Gary O'Kane still interested in helping next season's managerial team.

Peden and O'Kane were part of last season's joint management set-up with McNaughton and McKinley and were popular among the players.

At the end of their tenure, both McKinley and McNaughton had become disillusioned with the lack of buy-in from some players.

McKinley said: “We're maybe not as attractive as the elite counties and the work that has to be done to get up to that elite, some people are saying: ‘No, I don't want to be involved in that. I'm not giving up my time.'

“You're asking players to train three times per week and do their gym sessions. Those are great demands. The next generation is saying: ‘I want a good car. I want my holidays. I want to go on stag parties.'

“There are things interfering that would never have interfered in the past but they are now, big time."

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