Sport Hurling

Sunday 19 January 2020

Qualifier 'incentive' fires up McCrory's men

Antrim captain Simon McCroy. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Antrim captain Simon McCroy. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

If familiarity breeds contempt then Saturday's Christy Ring Cup final could be a spicy affair as Antrim and Carlow lock horns for the fourth time this year with silverware not the only incentive for the winner.

The Saffrons have the upper hand with a draw, a three-point Division 2A NHL final win as well as coming out one-point victors after an extra-time thriller and Antrim captain Simon McCrory is sure "Carlow won't need any motivation to beat us" with the carrot of a qualifier tie against Laois a "big prize" for the winners.

"Knowing that you are going into the Qualifiers and getting a crack at them, it's a real incentive, a real big prize. Not only are you getting a trophy, but you are getting to go to the top level this year and it is a huge incentive," said McCrory.

"It's a huge motivating factor and I'm sure it's the same for Carlow. It could be a really good summer for whoever comes out the right end."

After spending some time in the wilderness, the return of Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton to the Antrim helm has raised hurling's profile in the Glens but McCrory still bemoans the lack of availability of some players.

"Player turnover is massive. There are players in my mind, I could definitely see them playing for Antrim and they aren't. For whatever reason that might be, work, maybe they are a wee bit disillusioned and maybe they are happy with their club," he said.

"When you are coming from a so-called lesser county, playing in a so-called lesser competition, it is maybe more difficult to get players playing because maybe they can't see what benefit they get out of it.

"It has always been something I have wanted to do since I was a kid coming to Croke Park to watch Antrim teams play. I was thinking 'that looks class, I want to do that'."

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Having been involved in Croke Park when Antrim shocked Dublin seven years ago in the Qualifiers, and also last year when they fell to Meath after a Christy Ring Cup final replay, McCrory has mixed memories of GAAheadquarters but is "buzzing" ahead of the weekend.

"Even talking to the lads who have retired since 2010, they would mark that as the highlight of their career. Beating Dublin in Croke Park, in front of the Hill and before Dublin played Armagh in the football so it was packed! It's just something you'll always take with you," the St John's clubman added.

• TIPPERARY goalkeeper Evan Comerford is considering a switch to SSE Airtricity League soccer after he was banned from Gaelic Football for 12 weeks.

It's understood that the 22-year-old is considering his options on the back of enquiries from at least three top League of Ireland clubs. Comerford is set to meet with the respective managers this week - and will not be appealing further against his ban.

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