Hurling and camogie

Joe Maskey and Neil McManus return to Antrim panel for Westmeath clash

Neil McManus hit 1-6 as Antrim and Ulster champions Cushendall came within a whisker of beating St Thomas last weekend. Pic by John McIlwaine.
Andy Watters

CUSHENDALL’S Neil McManus, Eoin Campbell and Ryan McCambridge and St Enda’s midfielder Joe Maskey are in the Antrim squad for tomorrow’s pivotal Division 2A clash against table-toppers Westmeath.

The Ruairi Og trio all played in their club’s agonising one-point loss to Connacht champions St Thomas in last Sunday’s All-Ireland senior club hurling championship semi-final while Maskey lined out for his club’s footballers as their thrilling journey ended at Croke Park in the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship final.

All four have put their disappointment behind them and returned to the Antrim fold on Thursday night to help the Glensmen prepare for the Corrigan Park showdown with Westmeath.

Manager Neal Peden looks likely to keep faith with the side that showed character to beat Meath in round two but he is delighted to have the experience and ability of McManus, Maskey, Campbell and McCambridge back in his squad.

“Our team is very similar to the one that played Westmeath in the Kehoe final and we have four of the lads back on the panel again,” explained the St John’s clubman.

“It’s good that they’re there to strengthen the panel and we’re hopeful we can get them integrated into the team for the coming matches.

“We’re very happy with what we have on our panel and to get players of that calibre back is a big boost. The young lads have shown great character since before Christmas, coming through the Kehoe Cup and coming through the National League.

“We’re very pleased with how those guys have shown up, they’ve done really well and now we’ve got a bit of experience back in the panel and you’re always looking for that, it’s vital.”

With attacking wing-back Campbell, combative half-forward McCambridge and midfield pair McManus and Maskey available, Antrim will hope to kick on and clinch promotion from Division 2A.

“They are great hurling man and they want to see Antrim do well,” said manager Peden.

“They were so disappointed last weekend and for Cushendall to lose by a point and Joe to lose an All-Ireland with St Enda’s… It’s difficult and everybody has to come back in their own way.

“We wanted them to come back when they felt they were ready to go on their next journey. They are ready and it’s great for Antrim hurling.”

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