Hurling League Division Two A final: Antrim face Carlow in promotion contest

Westmeath's Darragh Egerton in action against Antrim's John Dillon last weekend
Antrim squeezed into the Divison Two A final despite last Sunday's defeat by Westmeath
Allianz Hurling League Division Two A Final: Carlow v Antrim
Date: Saturday, 1 April Throw-in: 15:00 BST Venue: Pairc Esler Coverage: Match report on BBC Sport website

Antrim hurlers aim to end an awful two years for the caman game in the county by earning promotion back to Division One B of the League on Saturday.

The Saffrons face Carlow in the Division Two A final at Newry in what will be a high-pressure occasion.

The sides already met in the round-robin section of Division Two A when the game ended in a 2-15 to 0-21 draw.

Antrim's confidence for Sunday's final is unlikely to have been boosted by last weekend's defeat by Westmeath.

Granted, Westmeath were probably the strongest team in the division, with their couple of early defeats not a true reflection of their ability, as they were already out of promotion contention heading into the Cushendall contest.

Free-taker Ciaran Clarke and Deaglan Murphy have been Antrim's main scoring threats in their recent games and the Saffrons are likely to need big games from both forwards on Sunday.

Carlow are managed by former Tipperary star Colm Bonner and their key players include captain Marty Kavanagh.

Antrim have been in Division Two A since suffering a disastrous defeat against Kerry in the Division One B/Division Two A promotion-relegation play-off in April 2015.

A couple of months after losing their Division One status, Antrim then suffered demotion to the second-tier Christy Ring Cup championship grade following Leinster Championship defeats by Westmeath and Carlow.

Following that dreadful 2015 campaign, then manager Kevin Ryan resigned but his successor PJ O'Mullan only lasted five months in charge before resigning exactly a year ago after further Division Two A defeats by Westmeath and Carlow.

Since then a management team of former bosses Terence McNaughton and Dominic McKinley plus Neal Peden and Gary O'Kane, have been in charge.

The Saffrons have found Carlow tough opposition over the last couple of years and Saturday's game looks a difficult one to call.

Allianz Hurling League fixtures

Saturday

Division 1B relegation play-off

Laois v Kerry, O'Moore Park, 19:00

Division 2A final

Antrim v Carlow, Pairc Esler, 15:00

Division 2B final

Meath v Wicklow, Parnell Park, 17:00

Division 2B relegation play-off

Mayo v Roscommon, MacHale Park, 19:00

HL Division 3A final

Donegal v Tyrone, Celtic Park, 14:00

Sunday - 16:00 unless stated

Division 1 quarter-finals

Offaly v Tipperary, O'Connor Park

Cork v Limerick, Pairc Ui Rinn

Galway v Waterford, Pearse Stadium

Kilkenny v Wexford, Nowlan Park

Division 1A relegation play-off

Clare v Dublin, Cusack Park, 16:00

HL Division 3B final

Longford v Warwickshire, Healy Park, 13:30pm

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