Barry McFall drafted into Saffrons team for Westmeath game

Barry McFall

Antrim manager Kevin Ryan has brought Barry McFall into the side for Sunday's Leinster SHC preliminary round game against Westmeath in Mullingar.

The St John's defender replaces forward Stephen McAfee in the only change to the Saffrons line-up.

Half-forward Paul Shiels has been passed fit to play despite suffering from a hairline thumb fracture.

The Ulster champions aim to make amends for their first-round defeat by the same opponents last year.

The prize for the winners is a meeting with Laois in the first round.

The injured Simon McCrory was expected to miss the game but he is included among the substitutes.

Karl Stewart is also on the Saffrons bench after missing the National Hurling League campaign because of work commitments.

Christopher McGuinness is back in the Antrim panel after spending a long spell on the sidelines because of injury.

Westmeath are expected to be without regular wing-back Philip Gilsenan in the Mullingar clash.

Gilsenan, 24, suffered a knee injury in a club game last weekend and appears likely to be ruled out for a number of weeks at least, and possibly longer.

Waterford man Kevin Ryan is heading into his first championship match as Antrim manager.

Ryan took charge of the Saffrons in the wake of last season's dismal Championship campaign where the Westmeath defeat was then followed by a 8-26 to 1-15 mauling by Limerick in the qualifiers.

The subtext to Antrim's awful summer was a chaotic management structure which saw then manager Jerry Wallace stepping down after the defeat by Westmeath only to reappear a couple of weeks later before finally being ushered away again from the squad in the week before the Limerick humiliation.

Prior to the National League, Ryan pleaded for patience from Antrim supporters and retaining their Division 1B status - albeit after a relegation play-off win over Carlow - represented a satisfactory Spring for the Saffrons.

A repeat of the form they displayed in the narrow defeats by Limerick and Offaly during the League campaign should be enough to see off Westmeath but after last year's shock defeat, the Saffrons won't be underestimating the opposition.

Antrim: R McGarry; B McFall, A Graffin, M McFadden; C McKinley, N McAuley, J McGreevey; M Donnelly, T McCloskey; P Shiels, N McManus, E McCloskey; S McNaughton, C Carson, S Beattie.

Hurling results - Saturday 4 May

Christy Ring Cup first round

Down 2-17 3-16 Kerry

Derry 1-11 1-10 Wicklow

Meath 1-20 2-10 Armagh

Kildare 1-23 0-15 Mayo

Lory Meagher Cup

Leitrim 0-12 3-13 Fermanagh

Nicky Rackard Cup

Tyrone 1-1 0-12 Leitrim

Roscommon 1-18 0-14 Sligo

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