Antrim boss Gleeson hopes the fans come out in support

By Michael McMullan

ANTRIM hurling boss Darren Gleeson is hoping fans will get behind the side in Sunday’s crunch Leinster Championship game at Corrigan Park.

The Saffrons must avoid defeat to avoid dropping to the Joe McDonagh Cup for next season.

“We’ve been lucky we’ve had a good following for the last few years in Belfast,” Gleeson told Gaelic Life.

“We could do it with everyone in the door behind us. I think we will, I think we’ll get a good crowd in behind us. I say this all the time, there’s a great team worth following there.”

After losing to Kilkenny in their opener, Antrim hurled themselves to victory over Wexford to leave a Leinster final spot up for grabs.

Defeats to Dublin and Galway leave them needing at least a draw against Carlow to maintain their Leinster Championship status.

“In the context of the year and the championship, it’s probably a massive game overall for Antrim to try stay developing,” said Gleeson after overseeing Tuesday night’s training session. “After getting up into the Leinster Championship you want to be bedding yourself in there for the long term, not to drop back to Joe McDonagh level and then try and build it again.

“You want to be consistently at the top level. That’s what keeps it attractive for players and younger people coming in, they want to see themselves in those games.”

Gleeson is fully aware what they’ll be facing on Sunday. Carlow could’ve got something from their Joe McDonagh Cup game two years ago and it took a late goal to overcome Carlow in Dr in 2020.

Antrim fans will also remember the afternoon, in 2015, when they fell to a 10-point defeat as they dropped to the Christy Ring Cup.

The win over Wexford showed what Antrim’s current blend is capable of. Then, after an early Dublin goal and trailing by 10 points, a goal by James McNaughton helped Antrim back into the game until a final Dublin charge saw them well beaten. They performed brilliantly in the first half against Galway with Ryan McGarry’s red card on the restart changing the game entirely.

“We were looking upwards when you see the Wexford result. Again, there were opportunities against Galway,” Gleeson added.

“It was very positive there for a long period of the game and we felt we could have gotten something out of that game and a lot of people wouldn’t have seen that.”

“We know the ability we have in the group but now we’re down to a shootout and we just have to come with a really good attitude for the weekend,” Gleeson sums up.

“Good training session there tonight (Tuesday), the boys are focussed for what has to be done, and that’s the attitude we need for the week.”

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