Hurling and camogie

Antrim SHC champions Dunloy aiming to overcome Rossa

Loughgiel's Neil McGarry in action against Cushendall's Alex Delargy and Niall McCormack in the Antrim SHC.
Picture Seamus Loughran
Anthony Gunning

Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship Round Robin (all games Sunday, 2pm)

Group One

DEFENDING champions Dunloy will look to take a big step towards qualification to the knockout stages of this year's Antrim Senior Hurling Championship when they travel to Rossa Park tomorrow.

Keelan Molloy struck late in stoppage time last weekend to rescue a draw for Cuchullain's against Ballycastle and that point could be vial at the end of the group stages given how tight Group One looks.

Dunloy certainly have the fire-power to prevail with Molloy, Conal Cunning, Seaan Elliott and Eoin O'Neill all capable of delivering big.

Gregory O'Kane's men were comfortable winners against Rossa at the same stage last year and will be fancied to take the points here, but the hosts will enter the game knowing their campaign could be over if they lose and Ballycastle also win on Sunday.

That is due to their one-point defeat to St John's last week so Colly Murphy's men know they can't rely on getting a result on the final day to secure qualification. The Rossa manager will be sweating on the fitness of Thomas Morgan, Dara Rocks and Aidan Orchin who all hobbled off last week, whilst he will also hope Chris McGuinness has recovered from an ankle injury to take his place.

In Ballycastle, St John's will arrive aiming to make it two wins from two and seal at least a quarter-final place.

Following last Sunday's win at Rossa, manager Michael Johnston suggested it would be hard to make many changes from the team that finished, meaning substitutes Ryan McNulty and Micheal Dudley could be in for starting berths, whilst Ciaran Johnston is available having served a one-game suspension.

At the outset, many would have confidently predicted a Johnnies' win, but given the level of performance from Ballycastle against Dunloy, this is a tough one to call.

The return of Neal McAuley from a long-term injury has bolstered the McQuillans' defence and their discipline at the back was a big reason why they almost scored a win last week.

Ciaran Clarke doesn't need a second invitation from placed balls, so this game could be decided by the finest of margins.

Group Two

Loughgiel will head to De La Salle Park to face St Gall's with both teams on a high following victories last week.

Hugh McCann's Shamrocks held on for a win over Cushendall that puts them in pole position to top the group and they will be determined to cement those credentials against a St Gall's team who will feel they now have one foot in the quarter-finals.

Liam Watson is back in the fold but didn't appear last weekend due to a hamstring injury, so perhaps this may be the game when 'Winker' is eased back into the attack that was led by James McNaughton against the Dall. Veterans Eddie McCloskey and Benny McCarry found the net on Sunday and whilst Loughgiel may feel they can experiment a little, they will also want to establish themselves early against a St Gall's team that stayed with them for much of the first half in the corresponding game last year.

CJ McGourty, Sean Burke, Aodhan Gallagher and Jackson McGreevy continue to lead the way and manager Chris Dornan will be keen to see how his team stands up against one of the contenders, but they will find the going tough tomorrow.

That is also likely to be the case for St Enda's whose defeat to St Gall's last Sunday leaves them with a mountain to climb if they want to break into the top three in the group.

It is the Glengormley club's first year up at senior and whilst they compete well in the first half last week with Cormac Ross, Eoin Conlon and Cormac Jennings carrying the fight, a more seasoned St Gall's team overpowered them to claim the points in what many viewed as a straight-up knockout game.

Their trip to face Cushendall tomorrow is a daunting one and whilst the Ruairi Ogs lost out to Loughgiel last week, they won't be hitting the panic button with Neil McManus still to return for an ankle injury.

Shane McNaughton, Conor Carson and Sean McAfee are back, but the Dall have a settled look about them with ace poacher Alex Delargy lethal around goal and Eoghan Campbell driving them on.

They should get their first points tomorrow with a bit to spare.

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Hurling and camogie