By Kieran Lynch
LOUGHGIEL Shamrocks have been perfect so far in their Division 1 league campaign with 10 wins out of 10, and manager Hugh McCann has praised the young players coming through, who have made their mark at Senior grade.
The future looks exciting for the club with a number of players such as twins Darragh and Pearse Patterson, Jack McCloskey, Ronan McCollum and Aidan McGarry, who all featured on the Antrim u-20 squad, playing crucial roles in Loughgiel’s winning streak.
“Things have been going well for us in the league, but that’s because we have a lot of young players there who are keen to make their mark,” said McCann.
“We have some really good players coming through, with really good attitudes, and they’re the future of our club.
“It has been brilliant from the point of view of looking at the extended members of our panel.
“We’ve saw lads who were only minor last year coming into the senior panel and giving really good accounts of themselves, and that’s brilliant for the development of the hurlers in our club.
“But we’re under no illusions that the season is only really starting now that the county players are coming back.
Whilst it’s a good feeling to be winning, it’s still only early June, and Loughgiel will have to stay the course if they’re to knock off their county rivals later on in the season.
“In terms of our competition, the two big sides are Dunloy and Cushendall,” said McCann.
“Dunloy played in an All-Ireland Club final last year, and we haven’t beaten Cushendall in a knockout championship match in a good few years, so that’s the level we aspire to, and league and championship hurling are two different things.”
The league has now split into Division 1A and 1B, and with Loughgiel on top, they’re sure to have a target on their backs between now and the end of the league, but McCann is excited to see over the course of the next few months, exactly where his side are at, ahead of the championship.
“Between now and the end of the league is our championship preparation to a large extent,” he said.
“We’ve still got two months, so it’s a fair bit to go, but it’s now that we can work with a full panel of players to see where we’re at.
“So, the season is only really starting now.”