Antrim clash with Westmeath this coming Saturday afternoon in the All Ireland Hurling qualifier at Casment Park with a 3.00pm throw in. Both sides will looking to get their respective seasons back on track and Saturday provides the ideal platform for one team to gain some much needed confidence and keep their championship hopes alive.
Both sides come into the game having been defeated last time out. In the championship thus far Antrim beat Laois by 1-21 to 3-12 and lost to Wexford by 3-16 to 1-11 while Westmeath beat Carlow 3-10 to 1-14 and lost to Galway by 4-17 to 2-14.
Neil McManus has been Antrim’s top scorer in their two games so far this season, delivering a total of 0-15. He has been ably assisted by Conor McCann who has scored 1-4 and by Karl Stewart who has notched 0-7. All three players will be crucial to Antrim’s cause this Saturday and will have to perform if Antrim hope to defeat Westmeath.
Brendan Murtagh meanwhile is Westmeath’s top scorer on 0-12 , continuing his fine run of form this season while Derek McNicholas has scored 3-0 and Brian Smyth had also contributed 1-3 to the Westmeath cause.
The last times the two side s met this season it was Antrim who came out on top in their Allianz Hurling League Div II on March 27 running out four point winners, 2-13 to 2-9 in Cusack Park. The game that day was remembered for Westmeath having two players sent off which scuppered an chances they had of winning that day.
Two players who stood out for Antrim that day were Neil McManus who scored 0-7 and Conor Carson who bagged a brace of goals. The game was also remembered for the high intensity that Antrim played with that day and how, when the pressure was on, they were able to close out the game in the last quarter.
Both sides have a strong panel to choose from and the game, just like in March, will be a close affair. The verdict goes to Antrim, who looked physically and mentally tougher the last time the two sides met and that should be enough to see them through.