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Neil: We have to make up for 2012.

Byline: CONOR CASSIDY

ANTRIM hurlers want to restore damaged reputations this year and the first person they have to convince is their new manager.

When Kevin Ryan was appointed last November, he was apparently stunned by the club jealousies and lack of respect shown towards the Saffron jersey.

McManus, who helped launch the Allianz hurling leagues in Belfast yesterday, was not one of the guilty party but he believes the group that's now been assembled are committed to the manager and their county.

"I think the word he (Ryan) used was 'apathy' towards Antrim hurling," he said.

"It is a strong word but that was the case. He was shocked, I would say that.

"I think we are turning that round for him because the group of players that we have are here for the season and are extremely committed.

"We are all here trying to work in the same direction and pull Antrim up a few rungs on the ladder. I'd hope if he (Ryan, above) was asked the same questions now, his answers might be different."

Antrim lost credibility after a farcical 2012 season.

Off-field problems dogged them when Cork native Jerry Wallis resigned, then came back in with a diminished roleand was then asked to quit again.

However, McManus doesn't absolve the players from blame and although he doesn't name names, he's upset with a lack of effort some have put in over the years.

However, McM absolve the pl blame and althou name names, he' a lack of effort so in over the years. Eyebrows were just three players All-Ireland club Loughgiel acc challenge of sav from further hum The club's star Watson is not one McManus recko Watson but Loug McCloskey who w asset to the coun "Eddie will be Sunday against L Eyebrows were raised when just three players from former All-Ireland club champions Loughgiel accepted the challenge of saving Antrim from further humiliation.

The club's star forward Liam Watson is not one of them but McManus reckons it is not Watson but Loughgiel's Eddie McCloskey who will be a huge asset to the county.

"Eddie will be starting on Sunday against Limerick and he is as good a forward as there is in the country.

"He is a fantastic leader on the field and a very good guy, a seriously hard trainer.

"It's up to Kevin Ryan whoever else he wants to bring into the panel but at the minute there's a real bond between the players.

"We are a tight unit, looking forward to moving forward as a unit."

Antrim are starting off the season from a low base and they aren't expected to challenge for promotion.

While they simply cannot compete with the top teams like Kilkenny, Tipperary and Galway, McManus insists they should be back mixing it with the second tier teams like Wexford, Offaly and Dublin.

"I am as motivated and excited as I have ever been before any campaign, bar maybe the first one.

"This is a new start for this team. The expectation levels about us are very low.

"But we believe that we will produce a few shocks."

I am as motivated and excited as I have ever been by any campaign.. a exc bee thi for this is a new start this team
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 22, 2013
Words:548
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