Monday 20 January 2020

'Antrim hurling needs to revamp everything'

Gregory O'Kane Picture: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Gregory O'Kane Picture: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Antrim great Gregory O'Kane has implored everyone involved in Antrim hurling to "take stock" of where they are and put a plan in place to halt their rapid decline of recent years, writes Michael Verney.

With Casement Park's redevelopment meeting resistance, the former Saffron hurler believes they're losing their "identity" and must act fast or fall further behind.

"We have to look where we are at, where we are going. We just need to revamp everything. We need people to get a reason to play for Antrim again. If you look at our club structure it's as good as any county," O'Kane said.

"We've won All-Irelands at every level, junior, intermediate and seniors since 2012, so I feel these last years the pride has maybe gone out of the Antrim jersey.

"Players are maybe more committed to the club scene. We need to find a reason for people to play for Antrim again.

"People would see a better chance of winning an All-Ireland club title with their clubs - Dunloy, Cushendall, Ballycastle or Loughgiel - so it's easier for them to commit to their clubs. That's the difficult point and a problem for Antrim."

O'Kane, Ireland's Hurling/Shinty joint-manager, announced his squad to take on Scotland in Inverness on Saturday (2.00pm) led by Tipperary All-Ireland winners John and Noel McGrath and Michael Breen.

IRELAND (Shinty v Scotland) - M Boyle, P Kelly, B Murphy, S Nolan (all Kerry), M Breen, J McGrath, N McGrath (all Tipperary), M Burke, J Toher, D Healy (all Meath), P Divilly, G Keegan (both Kildare), E Reilly (capt), C Dwyer (both Laois), D Cullen (Donegal), S Dooley (Offaly), C Freeman (Mayo); K Murray (Longford).

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