By Michael McMullan
CUSHENDALL’S focus is simple ahead of their Antrim semi-final clash with Ballycastle insists former Antrim star Neil McManus.
It’s knock-out hurling and time to put in the best performance possible as the race for title number 15 takes another step on Saturday (Loughgiel, 2.30pm).
McManus, who called time on a stellar county career this season, shot an amazing 4-9 in their last game to see off Loughgiel and top the group.
He admits to doing nothing different now that his county days are behind him. The workload is the same as it was at this time every year and he’ll notice a change until the Saffron’s a pacing around Dunsilly in preseason and he’s not.
“It has been about trying to get everybody fit and on the pitch,” McManus said of the ‘Dall’s progress so far in the championship.
“We’d have been happy with most of it but there were things we needed to improve on. We are trying to do that as we approach the semi-final on Saturday.”
Their 4-22 to 0-19 win over Loughgiel is something McManus is investing little thought in.
Cushendall’s game with the Shamrocks are always tight encounters and thus one, as McManus sees it, was no different. Indeed, he feels it was more competitive than the scoreline suggests.
“It was in the melting pot with 20 minutes to go, which is nothing new to Loughgiel v Cushendall games.
“The group games don’t have that bite to them when they are not knock-out and we were both going through.”
Now it’s Ballycastle, a team who shocked the county with their quarter-final win over Rossa.
“This is do or die and we are looking forward to it,” McManus added.
“This is what you train all year for, the straight knock-out championship
We are really looking forward to it and we are well prepared, as are every other team at this stage.
“We are hoping we can bring our highest level of performance on the day.”
Champions Dunloy will face Loughgiel in the other semi-final on Sunday (Ballycastle, 2pm).