Back In The Day - Elliott's crew bid to emulate the class of '89 - The Irish News, July 24, 1999
All-Ireland SHC quarter-final Antrim v Offaly (holders)
Elliott’s crew bid to emulate the class of ’89
CHASTISED, criticised, feeling raw after being skinned by Kilkenny and romance of 1989 revisited this week by all and sundry has champions Offaly ill at ease about it.
If sound-bites and spin-doctoring, the suspected smokescreen of doubt, rings anything like true their All-Ireland title may be prised loose live and exclusively on RTE tomorrow.
All the while Antrim reckon they’ve applied much needed polish to the basics, galvanised confidence, have the hunger and hurling for a giant-kill.
With it being the 10th anniversary of their most famous All-Ireland win in the play-offs, colour and appeal of the game is instantaneous.
The attractive fact that Offaly are defending the McCarthy Cup this time too has added a tremendous edge, a sense of anticipation, to the match.
Antrim must respond. They have to.
Players and management are adamant they will, that they have done their homework, put in the practice, the physical to the psychological to the pure basics.
A sceptical mind, clogged by too many disappointing days, bad performances which exposed limitations of craft and guile, seeks fresh evidence of otherwise.
It is impossible not to recall the lump in the throat, tears welled in eyes experience of being at Croke Park 10 years ago.
The possibility of doing to Offaly tomorrow what McFetridge, McCarry, the Donnellys, McNaughtons, Barr and Patterson achieved back then has been talked about ever since the draw.
Jackie Carson’s move to the full-forward line has potential.
A powerful individual, Carson’s directness against Derry showed a bit more of what he does so well for his club. In around the edge of the square, a player of his size and ability should offer Antrim a strong target, and with first-time hurling his partnership with Alastair Elliott and Sean Paul McKillop might just put Offaly off balance.
All-Ireland MHC quarter-finals
Saffrons seek to show improvement
LIKE the seniors, Antrim minors face a re-run of last year’s All Ireland quarter-final.
Again like the seniors, they want a much-improved performance - by ‘Jingo’! Manager Jim ‘Jingo’ McKernan has seven of the players who lost by six points to today’s opposition, Wexford, at the same stage last year in Drogheda.
The young Saffrons should be at full strength, adding five players who missed the Ulster final victory over Down, including captain and centre-back Ciaran Herron.
Fellow half-back Dermot McAuley also comes back in, along with centre-forward Kevin Elliott, while Brian McNaughton and Gavin Bell make their championship entrance, joining the full-forward line.
One unfortunate to miss out is JB McGuckian, who scored both goals from midfield as Down were despatched 2-13 to 0-3 in the Ulster final.
Twelve of today’s Saffrons side played in the semi-final demolition of Armagh (9-17 to 0-3).
So far Antrim have not conceded a point from play.
Five of the current side have impressive antecedents in Antrim colours, grandfathers who represented the county with honour more than half a century ago at minor and senior level.
Midfielder Gerard Armstrong is a grandson of the legendary Kevin Armstrong, a Hall of Fame award recipient in 1988, and his centrefield partner Mickey McClements has the same relationship to Jimmy McClements, current Dunloy club president.
Centre-forward Kevin Elliott is the grandson of Brendan Elliott, while corner-forward Brendan Quinn is the grandson of the famous Sean “Nipper” Quinn.
Brian McNaughton, who will play at top of the right, is the son of Seamus, one of the Cushendall brothers who served the county in the seventies and eighties, while Gerard Cunningham can claim two generations of hurling heritage, through father Gerard and grandfather Bobby.
Antrim (MH v Wexford): G Magee; K O’Grady, P Martin, J Campbell; D McAuley, C Herron, G Cunningham; G Armstrong, M McClements; M Scullion, K Elliott, C McLarnon; B McNaughton, G Bell, B Quinn.