Glenariffe Oisins held their annual awards dinner in the Larragh Lodge Restaurant on Saturday night with Gaelfast Director Dr Paul Donnelly the guest of honour. A series of internal awards were handed out to the hurlers and Ladies Footballers with Alex O’Boyle sweeping the boards in the hurling awards and Gemma Black cleaning up in the Ladies Football awards. Saffron Gael was there to capture the action.
The Antrim Minor Hurling Management team held a very successfuL Parents/Players Information evening in St Louis’, Ballymena on Monday night with several guest speakers in attendance.
Paul Mc Flynn, teacher and former Derry footballer addressed the audience. Speaking about issues which affected him as a player of their age, many of which are still relevant today, he outlined the challenges affecting all the elite players and how important it was to find the right playing/studying balance. He spoke about his student days and how it was possible to study and attend all training sessions without fear of underachieving.
Dr Nicholas Mc Naughton from Loughgiel spoke about health and fitness, the many demands placed on players and the importance of a balanced diet and rest. He also talked about his hurling career at club, school and university level and about boxing for Scorpion boxing club, Ballymoney.
Paul McFlynn, Dr Nicholas McNaughton, Director of Hurling Neil Peden and Dr Noel Brick.
Neil Peden, Antrim’s first Director of Hurling informed the players of the pathway that Antrim hurling was trying to establish and compared our teams to southern opposition, comparing the physical condition of their players to ours and how he hoped that many of the players present would go on and play for the Antrim seniors. He finished off by informing the minor boys that they were being treated the same as the seniors in that they were training in the same facilities and had access to the same doctors, physios and dietitians.
Last on the stage was Dr Noel Brick, who spoke about sports psychology, how the elite players have mental toughness, how they deal with mistakes during games and the ability to refocus/re-establish themselves in the ‘zone’.
Allianz Hurling League Division 2A
Antrim vs Wicklow in Arklow
Throw in: 2pm
Referee: Chris Mooney (Dublin)
By Brendan McTaggart
Antrim begin their 2020 season in earnest on Sunday afternoon as they travel to the Garden County for their National League opener. This will be their second successive season in 2a after failure to claim promotion in 2019, a campaign that saw an opening day defeat to Kerry by two points after playing the majority of the game with 14 men. Darren Gleeson and his management team will be hoping for a smoother start to their campaign than that of 12 months ago.
A win in match day two against Meath kept Antrim in contention for promotion but those hopes were dashed with another narrow defeat to Westmeath in Mullingar. This campaign sees them start with a trip to Wicklow before hosting Mayo in Fr Healy Park, Loughgiel. Two matches that should see them siting with maximum points ahead of their mouth-watering tie against Offaly at Tullamore in three weeks’ time.
Having won the McGurk Cup after defeating Down in the final at The Dub, Antrim were beaten in the Kehoe Cup final by the Faithful County. Some called it their first proper test of the season and on paper the result was a defeat, but there has been plenty of plus points and positives to take from their preseason form.
12 months ago, Antrim didn’t have the services of the Ruairi Og contingent for the majority of the league campaign. In both cup competitions they have competed in this season, Paddy Burke, Neil McManus, Eoghan Campbell and Alex ‘The Goal’ Delargy have all featured prominently while the Johnston brothers (Ciaran and Conor) with club teammates Domhnall Nugent and Michael Bradley have certainly added to the squad. If anything, the current Antrim squad is the strongest it’s been in quite some time.
Nigel Elliott’s absence from the squad will be a tough one to fill for the Saffrons. He had been one of their strongest performers in recent seasons while Captain Conor McCann remains an injury doubt along with Conal Cunning and Eoin O’Neill. The Dunloy duo have yet to feature in a Saffron shirt this season while McCann picked up a knock in the Kehoe Cup.
Sunday’s opponents will be no strangers to the Saffrons. Antrim defeated Wicklow in the Kehoe Cup with a blistering display in the opening 20 minutes that saw them blow a tornado through the Garden County with James McNaughton the tormentor in chief. 17 of their 21 first half points coming from play in 35 minutes which saw them build a 21 point lead at the interval. The second half was more procession like at Abbotstown on that Sunday in December and while Antrim will go into Sunday’s match as heavy favourites, they should expect a much different Wicklow. They were promoted from 2B last year having been beaten once to Down in a campaign that saw them defeat Derry in their own backyard and again in a low scoring league final and while the twice Antrim have played them in recent times, both have been in the Kehoe Cup and lacking the intensity that should be there during the league.
A winning start is imperative for Gleeson and his team and a good performance will be required following the disappointment of their defeat to Offaly in the Kehoe Cup. The two key matches that will determine Antrim’s promotion fate lay in Tullamore and Tralee, to ensure that however, they need two points on Sunday.
Sun 2nd February
vs Mayo (Loughgiel)
Sun 16th February
vs Ofaly (Tullamore)
Sun 23rd February
vs Meath (Loughgiel)
Sun 1st March
vs Kerry (Tralee)
NFL Division 4
Antrim v Wexford
Antrim begin another NFL division 4 campaign this Sunday when they take on Wexford in Glenavy and a win over the Leinster side would set up the Saffrons for what looks on paper like a difficult season. Manager Lenny Harbision has stated that success for his side this season would be promotion to division 3 and anything less will be regarded as failure in some quarters.
The Antrim manager’s cause hasn’t been helped by the defection to soccer of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Stephen Beatty and Padraig Nugent while Patrick McCormick is unavailable due to a placement at University College Galway.
Top forward, Ryan Murray is another who is unavailable owing to work commitments in the Middle East while it is unclear whether the recalled Tomas McCann and Paddy Cunningham will be available for Sunday’s opener in Glenavy.
McCann underwent minor surgery recently while Cunningham sustained a hamstring injury and neither took any part in Antrim’s McKenna Cup campaign this year. Despite these setbacks Antrim enjoyed a promising McKenna Cup campaign, beating Fermanagh in Ahoghill in their opening game but losing to Down in Newry.
The Antrim management have made a number of call-ups with Oisin Kerr of Creggan vying with Rasharkin’s Eamon Hasson for the goalkeeping spot and Ronan Delargy of Portglenone, Ben Rice and Marc Jordan of Lamh Dhearg, Eamon Fyfe of Glenravel, Ciaran Garland and Ryan McNulty, St. Johns, Adam Loughran, Aghagallon and Eoin Nagle and Ruairi Scott of St. Enda’s hoping to make their National League debut.
The return of Conor Murray after a long injury, Peter Healy, Odhran Eastwood and Conor Small adds a wee bit of experience to the panel and manager Harbison and his backroom team will have taken encouragement from the performance of their side in the McKenna Cup.
Marc Jordan had a good game at mid-field against Fermanagh, Paddy McBride scored two spectacular goals to turn that game on its head and Ruairi McCann was outstanding at full-forward in both games, the Aghagallon man finally turning the promise he has shown at club level into his county performances.
Visitors Wexford have had their share of problems since the appointment of Paul Galvin as manager and his decision to drop Michael Furlong, Daithi Waters and Matt Doyle from the panel has not gone down well with Kevin O’Grady and Tiernan Rossiter leaving the panel in protest.
They lost all three of their O’Byrne Cup games against Westmeath, Offaly and Laois but these were always going to be difficult opponents and Galvin and his side will be hoping to reverse their losing trait when they make the long journey North on Sunday.
Just who will start for Antrim is not known at the time of writing with Ricky Johnston of Creggan limping out of the Down game early. Captain Declan Lynch, James McAuley, Colum Duffin, Ruairi McCann and Paddy McBride started both McKenna Cup games while Patrick Gallagher, Niall Delargy and Odhran Eastwood are likely to get the nod.
Conor Murray will surely play feature at some stage as he continues his rehabilitation and Lenny Harbison will be hoping that Paddy Cunningham and Tomas McCann will be able to play some part in Sunday’s game but whoever the Antrim management call upon are capable of getting this year’s National League campaign off to a winning start.
We at the Saffron Gael appeal to Antrim supporters to come along and get behind their side at Glenavy on Sunday as they aim to get off to a winning start.
The UPCOMING Foundation course for new referees will be held on Friday March 27th at 7pm – Dunsilly Hotel
Saturday March 28th at 10.30am – Dunsilly Hotel
Saturday April 4th at 10am – CROKE PARK!
ALL 3 SESSIONS MUST BE ATTENDED IN ORDER TO QUALIFY AS A REFEREE.
The final session will be in Croke Park on Saturday April 4th where certificates will be presented and referees gear given out to all successful participants.
NO BETTER REASON TO START AS A REFEREE NOW!
EMAIL BRENDAN TOLAND : email@example.com to apply
Why Become a GAA Referee?
•Stay involved with the game as an alternative to playing
•Fitness – It’s a great way to keep fit
•Ambition – could you referee a County Final or even an All-Ireland?
•Learn more about the game
•Give Something Back – offers players, at the end of their playing days, the opportunity to continue in the sport
•Personal Development – helps to develop personal skills that are of value in all walks of life
What qualities are required to become a GAA Referee?
•Good knowledge of the playing rules
•Be physically and mentally fit
•Have the ability to remain calm
•Have the moral courage to take decisions which are correct
RECAP: How do I become a Referee?
Note: If your club has no referee this year you will lose your home fixtures in the 2020 season.