We can compete for Joe McDonagh Cup honours: Antrim hurling boss Neal Peden
ANTRIM hurling manager Neal Peden believes he has a panel that can compete for this season’s Joe McDonagh Cup following last weekend’s impressive opening day win over Kerry.
The squad has left no stone unturned, having spent four days in Portugal in preparation for their Championship campaign, and in the closing stages the sizeable crowd in Dunloy on Saturday could see the fitness of the Saffrons.
While the intensity and style with which Antrim played were impressive, Peden also has plenty in reserve.
Substitutes Nigel Elliott (1-0), David Kearney (0-1), Joe Maskey (0-1) and Kevin Rice (0-1) got among the scores as Antrim obliterated Kerry in the second half.
“We knew it would be a 20-man game and our subs upped the pace,” said Peden.
“We have a panel that we really believe in. We came believing. We knew we could beat Kerry. They’ve beaten us the last couple of times. I believe we're a force but it’s about winning.
“We are a young, energetic team. We pressed them. Kerry are big strong men and they want to get you in the clasp – that’s what Kerry do – and we needed to get the ball running, and we did that.
“We’ve got momentum now and we’ve got to push on. We face Laois next week and we'll try to push on again. I feel we can compete here – this is our competition – and we’ve shown we can do well in it.”
Deflated Kerry boss Fintan O’Connor said a weakened panel and another arduous journey to the top end of the country probably took its toll on his side, who lost defender John Buckley to a straight red card in the 57th minute.
“This is our third journey up to Antrim in the last 12 months –it’s seven-and-a-half hours from Kerry,” O’Connor said. “Maybe we’ll play them in Dingle next year!”