McManus: All Antrim hurling teams should be in Leinster

McManus: All Antrim hurling teams should be in Leinster

Antrim senior hurler Neil McManus believes that all hurling teams from his county should get to participate at their respective grades in the Leinster Championship.

Speaking at today's All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship launch in Dunloy, the Saffrons forward feels that Leinster action should not be the sole preserve of Antrim's senior side.

"I think our inclusion at senior level (in Leinster) has also to be matched at underage level," he said.

"To see this coming through (in the senior grade) is one step in the right direction, but I would like to see the Under-16 and minor teams and the Under-21s all taking part in the Leinster Leagues and Championships.

"If we were to do that obviously money would have to come from Croke Park and if it is there I think it would be a worthwhile venture."

Antrim's involvement in the Leinster Senior Championship is entering its third year this weekend. Their opening game sees them on the road to Laois this Saturday evening.

McManus says that Antrim's move to a much more competitive provincial Championship has been a huge boost over the past two years.

"Without doubt our inclusion in Leinster has improved Antrim hurling two-fold, I would say.

"I just hope that the three-year experiment is kept on. I think also with Galway being brought into the Championship as well it has strengthened the Leinster Championship. I would be very hopeful that the initative will be kept up."

Twelve months ago Antrim took Offaly to extra-time in the Leinster Championship, while later in the summer they advanced to meet Cork in an All-Ireland quarter-final after beating Dublin in the previous round.

McManus says the gap between teams is closing, stating: "I think for Laois, Carlow, Limerick, Clare and ourselves - that group of teams - there is nothing between the whole lot of us.

"On any given day one of those teams can step up and take the scalp of a Division 1 team. I think you will see that again this year from somebody and God willing that it is Antrim again."

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