'You always want more': Antrim keen to build on eye-catching league results

Antrim play Dublin in the Leinster quarter-finals on June 26 and with 2016 All-Ireland winning Tipp goalkeeper Darren Gleeson on the sideline, Clarke says confidence and belief won't be a problem
'You always want more': Antrim keen to build on eye-catching league results

Ciaran Clarke of Antrim in action against Diarmuid O'Keeffe of Wexford during the Allianz Hurling League clash. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Antrim attacker Ciaran Clarke attributes their upsurge in form over the past two seasons to the arrival of former Tipperary star Darren Gleeson as manager.

Gleeson guided the Saffrons to the Joe McDonagh Cup title at his first attempt in 2020 and so far in this season's Allianz League they've secured their Division 1 status with a game to play, against Laois this Saturday.

Clarke, named the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for May, said he personally won't see it as a successful season unless they push on in the Championship too.

Antrim play Dublin in the Leinster quarter-finals on June 26 and with 2016 All-Ireland winning Tipp goalkeeper Gleeson on the sideline, Clarke says confidence and belief won't be a problem.

"Since Darren's come in in the last couple of years it's a very professional setup," said Clarke, who drilled 1-11 in last month's win over Clare and came on last weekend in the dramatic draw with Wexford in Belfast.

Antrim hurler Ciaran Clarke with his PwC GAA / GPA Player of the Month award in Hurling for May 2021 in Ballycastle, Co Antrim. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Antrim hurler Ciaran Clarke with his PwC GAA / GPA Player of the Month award in Hurling for May 2021 in Ballycastle, Co Antrim. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

"There's nothing you want for. If you ever need something, it's there for you. You don't even have to ask. It's probably the first year that we have all the best players in the county playing for us. Because of that (setup) they want to commit as you can see with the size of our panel, I think we have 36 in the panel, which is the first time we've ever had a panel that size and people wanting to come into it.

"I think the main thing Darren has brought is probably the belief. We are just the same as the so-called big teams, we just need to believe it. I think you have seen the belief there in our league campaign.

"Maybe we did start slow in games and maybe we were waiting to see what these other teams could do. But then we realised that we can compete and we can challenge and that's when we started clawing back the leads."

Beating Dublin in the Championship would ensure a mouthwatering Leinster semi-final clash with 2017 All-Ireland winners Galway.

Clarke said that, for him, if they fail to make Championship progress then he won't view it as a successful season, despite the league form.

"You always want more," he said. "I think one of the big things is never to be happy with what you've done. You want to give a good account of yourself in the Championship and you also want to win your last league game this weekend and finish up as high as you can.

"I wouldn't take it as a successful season at the minute, you would want to do well in the Championship."

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