Meath v Antrim
Saturday, Paric Tailteann, 2pm
Darren Gleeson said that one of the provisos that he made at the start of his new tenure as Antrim manager was that his team had to play in McGurk Cup.
It means that the Saffron hurlers are facing into a hectic pre season period where they will be playing in two competitions at the same time.
Gleeson said: “I felt that as it is named after an Antrm player, it was important that we support that competition.
“We are going to play both the McGurk and the Kehoe Cup. It gives us an opportunity to play as many games as possible pre league.”
The McGurk Cup hurling tournament is named after Conor McGurk a QUB student who studied sciences and hurled for the university in the Fitzgibbon cup and was twice picked as a goalkeeper in the cominbined university teams. McGurk was a product of the St John’s club in Belfast.
The Antrim team returned to training and are in the process of working on their strength and conditioning.
“We have not got down to the hurling bit yet,” Gleeson said.
There are a good number of changes to the team from the side from last year.
The Dunloy players are returning to action this week and they have been getting acquainted with the back room team. Among them are Ryan McGarry and Conal Cunning.
Gleeson was in as the coach last year, but he is taking over as manager from Neal Peden this year. Peden has moved in to the role of Hurling director in Antrim.
Jim Close and Gary O’Kane remain part of the back room team.
The new faces are Brendan Murphy the strength and conditioning coach and the nutrionist Julia Bowen.
New faces on the squad include Ballycastle’s Tiernan Butler.
There are a few new lads coming in from St John’s and Sarsfields Niall McKenna returns to the team. He spent 2018 working and hurling in England.
Gleeson said that he is keen to get an idea of his strongest squad as soon as possible.
“We don’t have a lot of time. It (getting the strongest squad) needs to happen very quickly. The league starts on the 26th of January.
“We are in division 2A and we will be setting out to get to the National League final.
“So we have to get to know the team before the 26th.”
McGurk Cup fixtures
Armagh v Longford
Sunday, December 1
QUB v Louth
Sunday, December 1, The Dub, noon
Section A Round two
Antrim v Armagh
Tuesday December 3, The Dub, 7.45pm
Section C Round one
UU v Down
Wednesday December 4, UU Jordanstown, 7.30pm