Antrim hurler Ciaran Clarke with his PwC GAA / GPA Player of the Month award in Hurling for May 2021 in Ballycastle, County Antrim.
Antrim hurler Ciaran Clarke with his PwC GAA / GPA Player of the Month award in Hurling for May 2021 in Ballycastle, County Antrim. 

Clarke says Saffrons ready to compete with the best


By John Harrington

PwC GAA-GPA Hurler of the Month, Ciaran Clarke, says the Antrim hurlers now believe they can compete with the best teams in the country.

The Saffrons have impressed on their return to Division 1, defeating Clare and, most recently, drawing with Wexford.

And Clarke says he and his team-mates are full of confidence thanks in no small part to the capable management of Darren Gleeson.

“We think it’s different this year," says 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.

“You’re always aiming to be the best you can be and compete against the so-called bigger teams.

“Since Darren’s come in in the last couple of years it’s a very professional set up.

"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.

“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 some games) 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 when we started clawing back the leads.”