Hurling & Camogie

Antrim need to return to basics to threaten Galway: James McNaughton

Saffrons aiming to bounce back against wounded Tribe

James McNaughton hit a fabulous 1-3 in the second half against Westmeath Picture: Seamus Loughran
James McNaughton has been a key player since his recent return from injury Picture: Seamus Loughran
Leinster SHC round four
Antrim v Galway (Saturday, Corrigan Park, 2pm)

ANTRIM’S year is likely to be one of moments rather than a sustained attack on the natural order of things down in Leinster.

Darren Gleeson’s men experienced an unbelievable high – arguably their best moment under the Tipp native – when they took Wexford’s scalp at Corrigan Park at the end of last month.

The hurling world seemed one of infinite possibilities in the aftermath - until they ran into Dublin two weeks later.

They simply couldn’t put back-to-back performances together against a team they always struggle to overcome.

The Dubs, who never get anything easy at Corrigan Park, didn’t have any such stress points at Parnell Park as they hit a humongous 3-32 against their visitors whose away record is desperately poor.

Gleeson said his team went into the Dublin game with the “wrong mentality” – an assessment James McNaughton didn’t disagree with.

“Obviously last week was very disappointing after such a high from the Wexford game,” said the Loughgiel man.

“We just have to go back to square one, get the fundamentals of our game right, get the work-rate back up and take them into the Galway game tomorrow and see where it takes us.

“We have full faith in our ability - but you have to earn the right to hurl, and you do that through work-rate, taking the hits, making the tackles and blocks…”

To just stay with Galway at Corrigan, Antrim will need to rediscover that insatiable work-rate that saw them overcome Wexford in dramatic circumstances because the Tribesmen are the best they faced during a difficult Division 1B campaign.

But Henry Shefflin’s men haven’t exactly set the world alight in this year’s Leinster series.

They were business-like against Carlow, they clinched a draw with Kilkenny before succumbing to a resurgent Wexford last day out.

Galway looked lethargic for long spells at Wexford Park and had no answer to the brilliance of Lee Chin while Rory O’Connor and Conor McDonald reminded the nation that there’s more to the Model County than the irrepressible Chin.

Tom Monaghan and Gavin Lee did put up some resistance in a rancid second half from the Tribesmen – so the visitors to west Belfast have a point to prove and will want to put themselves back in the Championship frame again.

As for Antrim, they did have two good spells either side of half-time against the Dubs, but they were blown away for the remainder of the second half.

Gleeson, though, hasn’t swung the axe and has stuck with virtually the same starting line-up that lost by 20 points to Dublin, with Michael Bradley of St John’s winning a start in Antrim’s half-forward line.

Galway manager Henry Shefflin during Sunday’s Allianz Hurling League Roinn 1 game at Corrigan Park in Belfast.
Galway manager Henry Shefflin during their visit to Corrigan Park earlier this season PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN