Dublin Launchers will provide an in-depth review of Antrim’s notorious credentials

Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B: Antrim v Dublin (Today Corrigan Park, 2pm)

Given Dublin’s renowned physical profile and recent history between them and hosts Antrim, it’s no surprise the bookmakers have installed the Sky Blues as overwhelming favorites at Corrigan Park this afternoon.

Dublin is the exam paper that Antrim never likes to sit on. Physically and psychologically, Dublin can bypass what you really have.

In the same way that Slaughtneil has Dunloy’s number, the Dubs have Antrim’s. Of course, Darren Gleeson’s men will be looking to drastically change that narrative today.

While a number of bettors might have nibbled on Kilkenny’s handicap ahead of last weekend’s National League opener, Antrim likely surprised them by running the Cats within three runs.

Handicap bets looked safe after the third quarter when Kilkenny took a seven-point lead, but Antrim showed great resilience to bring the hosts back with goals from Conor Johnston and Neil McManus.

And if it hadn’t been for the sharp reflexes of Darren Brennan to deny Domhnall Nugent in stoppage time, the Safrans could have left with the points.

Then, Gleeson was in no mood to accept pats on the back for losing by three runs. A loss is a loss, as attention quickly turned to the Dubs at home.

Antrim visitors to the Whiterock Road venue today might not have the marquee quality required to win an All-Ireland title – not helped, of course, by the towering shadow defending champion Limerick thrown through the Liam MacCarthy landscape – but they are a made team in months like February.

They don’t care about the soft ground – or the odd ruck, as evidenced by last week’s bruising encounter with Waterford at Parnell Park that ended in a diplomatic draw.

Antrim referee Colum Cunning had the daunting task of officiating the game and spent much of his afternoon handing out yellow cards, red cards and a few blacks – 18 in total – including the most were fully justified.

If anyone ever doubted the necessity of black cards in hurling, all they had to do was watch the Dublin-Waterford video. One thing Mattie Kenny will be looking for today is good storage from Dublin’s tackle.

Cian O’Callaghan, Danny Sutcliffe, Rian McBride, Colin Currie and Conor Burke were all guilty of cumbersome challenges that resulted in cards of one hue or another.

When not involved in rucks, messy challenges and tangles, not aided by the heavy turf, Dublin showed flashes of their undoubted hurling skill at Parnell.

They still look great in the half-forward line – something Antrim is well aware of following the two blows they were dealt in the space of five weeks later in the summer, the second of which was dented Glensmen’s Leinster Championship prospects.

Paddy Burke, Eoghan Campbell and Joe Maskey were the Antrim half-back line that suffered serious aerial assault at Navan last year – and the three are expected to form the same defensive line this afternoon.

It’s not exactly a chance at redemption for Antrim’s defensive trio, but rather they have the muscle memory of the power, agility and quality that Sutcliffe, Donal Burke and Chris Crummey can bring to the table. .

Gleeson was hopelessly disappointed with how Antrim’s 2021 season fizzled out towards the end.

Without a doubt, they were at their best at the start of last season’s National Hurling League where they played smart and resilient hurling to beat Clare and draw with Wexford, who weren’t physically outdone at Corrigan Park. .

Maybe they meet Dublin at a better time than last year.

The quality of Antrim’s ranks is beyond doubt. They have a good mix of smashing stick men and worker bees. They also score from midfield upwards.

Neil McManus remains their warrior leader. An injury-free Conor Johnston will cause problems for any defense in the country.

Keelan Molloy likes plenty of grass in front of him and is deadly accurate on the run and Niall McKenna gives a bit of everything to Gleeson’s running back line.

The idea that there are superman factories scattered throughout the heartlands of Leinster and Munster was dispelled during Gleeson’s tenure.

Antrim is improving. Today’s review copy will tell us by how much.

A good start is everything for Antrim this afternoon. If Antrim’s forwards line up, they stand a good chance of smiling at the bookmakers’ odds and giving themselves a crucial foothold in Division 1B.

The crucial question is whether this teak-resistant Dublin team gives them the time and space to get by in the first place.

Antrim (NHL v Dublin): R Elliott; N O’Connor, G Walsh, S Rooney; P Burke, E Campbell, J Maskey; S Walsh, K Molloy; McKenna N, Clarke C, McManus N; S Elliott, C Johnston, C Cunning Subtitles: P McMullan, A Crawford, R McGarry, J McNaughton, P Duffin, R McCambridge, M Bradley, D Murphy, E O’Neill, D McKernan, D Nugent

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