Saturday, 25 February 2012

McLaughlin to make Saffrons debut 24 February 2012

Sean McLaughlin will make his Antrim debut against Wexford at Casement Park on Sunday.

With the Loughgiel contingent unavailable, the Carey Faughs clubman starts the Division 1B opener at right half forward. Randalstown's Kevin Sheerin - who played in the league three years ago - is selected at full forward and Neil McManus starts at centre back.

Chris O'Connell is between the posts and Michael Herron will captain the Glensmen from the 40.

This is manager Jerry Wallis' first competitive game at the helm, as they opted not to participate in the Walsh Cup this year. Six of the Ulster team beaten by Connacht in the Interpro semi-final last weekend are included.

And, speaking on Antrim's official website, the new manager issued the following rallying call:

"It is a very interesting league. We only have five games and that means they are all very important, maybe 15% more intensive than games in last year's league. All of our games are against the kind of opposition we want to play, games that will make us more competitive and games we will want to do well in. They are very serious games. Three of our five are at home and I really do hope that supporters and clubs will come out and support the fellas.

"I had a meeting with all clubs at the start of the year and the feedback that night was very positive. Everyone wants to see Antrim doing as well as we can. It was a very progressive meeting and along with my management team we have been very open with the clubs in Antrim and I know from talking to people that there is a county-wide desire to see our hurling team playing as well as we know they can, and on a consistent basis.

"We want the whole package. We are looking for the team to play as well as they can, to play to their strengths and - yes - I want us to win the game. But look, this is a long-term project we are building. If we win, lose or draw or Sunday, the work will go on the next week. But of course we want to win; the players deserve that if only for the work they have put in so far. I hope we have a good day and that the supporters come out and enjoy themselves. This is a new start for Antrim, beginning on Sunday.

"I like the new ad for tourism in the North - it says this is 'our time and our place', I think that's a slogan for Antrim too."

Antrim (NHL V Wexford): C O'Connell; A Graffin, C Donnelly, K McGourty; N McAuley, N McManus, S McCrory; K Stewart, B McFall; S McLaughlin, M Herron, C McFall; S McNaughton, K Sheeran, PJ O'Connell. Subs: S McToal, J Kerr, A Downey, M Gettins, KB McShane, C Rea, P Shiels, D Lynch, D Hamill.

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