Greg O’Kane: Antrim must rediscover pride

Former Antrim stalwart Greg O’Kane believes many players have lost their pride in the jersey and need to be given a reason to want to play county hurling again.

The Saffrons failed to win the Christy Ring Cup this year and will face another season in Division 2A of the Allianz League in 2017 also.

O’Kane, who’ll jointly manage the Ireland Hurling/Shinty team in Scotland on Saturday, said it’s time to “revamp everything” regarding the Antrim hurling setup and said it’s a myth that a high profile manager can come in and solve their problems.

“We have to take stock,” said O’Kane. “We have to look at where we are at, where we are going. We just need to revamp everything probably. 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.

“We compete in All-Irelands, we win All-Irelands at all levels, junior, intermediate and seniors since 2012, so in that regard I just feel that in the last few years the pride has maybe gone out of the Antrim jersey and players are more committing to the club scene.

“We need to get going on that aspect and 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 will manage the Ireland team jointly with Galway’s Jeffrey Lynskey and the pair have named an 18-strong panel for Saturday’s test in Inverness. Tipperary’s John and Noel McGrath have been included as elite MacCarthy Cup players though club football commitments with Loughmore-Castleiney may result in their withdrawal from the panel.

Ireland Senior Hurling Shinty International panel:

1. Eoin Reilly (Laois, captain) 2. Mickey Boyle (Kerry) 3. Michael Breen (Tipperary) 4. Mickey Burke (Meath). 5. Danny Cullen (Donegal) 6. Paul Divilly (Kildare) 7. Shane Dooley (Offlay) 8. Cha Dwyer (Laois) 9. Cathal Freeman (Mayo) 10. Gerry Keegan (Kildare) 11. Damien Healy (Meath) 12. Patrick Kelly (Kerry) 13. John McGrath (Tipperary) 14. Noel McGrath (Tipperary) 15. Karl Murray (Longford) 16. Brian Murphy (Kerry) 17. Shane Nolan (Kerry) 18. James Toher (Meath)

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