Hurling League: Saffrons make three changes for crucial Portlaoise game

Dublin's Danny Sutcliffe is put under pressure by Neil McManus in the Corrigan Park encounter
Dublin edged out Antrim by one point at Corrigan Park two weeks ago

Antrim hurlers have made three changes for Saturday evening's crucial Division One B game away to Laois.

Ryan McCambridge and Neal McAuley have been drafted into the defence as Matthew Donnelly and Gerard Walsh drop to the bench.

James McNaughton comes into the attack with James Connolly dropping out.

The Saffrons need to turn their encouraging displays in their opening narrow defeats by Galway and Dublin into a victory in Portlaoise.

The two teams are the only sides without a point in the division and the losers will be strong favourites to be involved in the relegation play-off which will see the bottom two teams battling to avoid the drop to Division Two A.

After Saturday's game, Antrim will host Limerick in Cushendall on 25 February before their final game away to Offaly.

Limerick head the table on a maximum four points with All-Ireland champions Galway while Offaly and Dublin are both on two points.

Neil McManus continues to be a prolific marksman for the Saffrons
Neil McManus hit 0-16 for Antrim in the 0-22 to 0-21 defeat by Dublin at Corrigan Park

McManus confident Antrim can avoid drop

Speaking to BBC Sport Northern Ireland earlier this week, Antrim forward Neil McManus said he was optimistic that the Saffrons could secure the two wins which would almost certainly guarantee their Division One B survival.

"We need two wins and we are very capable of doing that," said McManus.

"It's all about maintaining the level of performance that we have produced in our first two games.

"I don't know (precisely) where the points will turn up but I believe they will turn up.

"We are very happy how we are progressing as a team and we look forward to the Laois game on Saturday night with a huge amount of enthusiasm."

McAuley, McCambridge and McNaughton all came on as substitutes against Dublin two week ago when the Saffrons conceded 0-22.

WEEKEND ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE FIXTURES

SATURDAY - 19:00 GMT unless stated

Division One A
TipperaryvWexford, Semple Stadium
Division One B
LaoisvAntrimPortlaoise
LimerickvDublinGaelic Grounds
Division One Two A
MeathvWestmeathTrim, 14:00
Division Three A
Warwickshire1-14Longford 0-11Pairc na hEireann

SUNDAY - 14:00 unless stated

Division One A
ClarevCorkEnnis
WaterfordvKilkennyWalsh Park
Division One B
GalwayvOffalySalthill
Division Two A
LondonvCarlowRuislip, 13:00
KildarevKerryNewbridge
Division Two B
DerryvMayoCeltic Park, 12:30
WicklowvDonegalAughrim, 13:00
DownvArmaghBallycran
Division Three A
MonaghanvTyroneInniskeen, 12:30
RoscommonvLongfordDr Hyde Park, 12:30
LouthvWarwickshireDarver, 13:30
Division Three B
LancashirevCavanJordanstown, Belfast, 13:00
FermanaghvLeitrimIrvinestown

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