HURLING fans across North Antrim and beyond will be gripped by the clash of two of the area’s top clubs - Loughgiel and Dunloy in the final of the Antrim senior championship at Casement Park this Saturday night.
The intense rivalry between the two is regarded as amongst the fiercest in Ireland with no quarter asked or given and the weekend clash is expected to generate a red-hot atmosphere.
Having won the All-Ireland championship, Loughgiel will start as favourites given that Dunloy made a sluggish start to the season, but in these games the formbook will go out of the window and according to one source, the fear of losing by Loughgiel might hand Dunloy an unexpected bonus.
Dunloy have recently secured the services of former Clare manager, Davy Fitzpatrick whose experience in the game could be a telling factor.
Should Loughgiel win, it will be their third senior title in three years and the prospect of a hat-trick will be an added incentive.
Another intriguing aspect to the game is that with so many inter-parish marriages, parents originally from Loughgiel and Dunloy respectively could find their offspring playing for the ‘opposing’ club.
That, in itself, adds to the propsect of a thrilling encounter which will be played for the first time under floodlights.
Some supporters are unhappy that the game will take place on a Saturday night, but this has been forced on the organisers by the replay between Galway and Kilkenny the following day.