Antrim forward Ciaran Clarke talks about their upturn in fortunes, playing in front of 500 people, and the impact of manager Darren Gleeson.
BY SHANE STAPLETON
Ciaran Clarke believes that things are different with Antrim in 2021.
Darren Gleeson has overseen a notable upturn in fortunes for the Saffron County in recent times, with promotion to the top level in both the Liam MacCarthy and the league achieved last season.
Clarke and co have performed strongly in the league to date, beating Clare and drawing with Wexford, with honourable defeats to Kilkenny and Dublin sandwiched in between.
Antrim will face the Dubs in their Leinster SHC opener on June 26, and the Ballycastle man admits his side can continue to raise their standards.
“Yeah well we think it’s different this year,” says PwC Player of the Month Clarke.
“We believe we can compete with these teams and we believe we can go far, but it’s about building on our last game and the game before that.
“So, yes, you’re always aiming to be the best you can be and compete against the so-called bigger teams.
“Well, since Darren’s come in in the last couple of years it’s a very professional set up,” he adds.
“There’s nothing you want for. If you ever need something, it’s there for you. You don’t have to ask.
“It’s probably the first year that we had all the best players in the county playing for us.
“They want to commit and, 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 go into it.”
After last weekend’s pulsating draw with Wexford in front of 500 people at Corrigan Park, Antrim will this week host fellow Leinster championship side Laois in Belfast.
“I think the main thing is probably the belief,” he says of Gleeson’s impact as manager.
“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 and maybe we were waiting to see what these other teams could do.
“But then when we realised that we can compete and we can challenge that’s maybe we started clawing back the leads.”
Click play on the video at the top of the page to hear more of Clarke’s thoughts on Antrim and their season.
PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for May for hurling, Ciarán Clarke (Antrim) with his award today at his home club Ballycastle GAA
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