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All-Ireland glory is ultimate aim for Loughgiel

By John Campbell

DD Quinn spent seven years as Antrim's first-choice goalkeeper but when he stepped down from the squad there was no way he was going to slip into anonymity.

Quinn has since not only helped Loughgiel to retain their Antrim crown this year but tomorrow he will lead the resistance against Down champions Ballycran in an Ulster Club Championship final at Casement Park (3pm) that has all the hallmarks of being a thriller.

"I had seven great years with Antrim that have given me wonderful memories," he said.

"I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the county set-up but life moves on and for the past couple of years my sole focus has been on my club."

His consistency between the posts is one of the reasons Loughgiel are not only contemplating back-to-back Ulster crowns but already have one eye on the All-Ireland Championship.

"You don't want to be presumptuous," says 26-year-old Quinn with more than a hint of caution.

"We know that Ballycran will be a tough handful but I would be less than honest if I did not say that Loughgiel are very keen to get another crack at the All-Ireland Club Championship."

Last year Kilkenny and Leinster champions O'Loughlin Gaels proved their masters although even neutrals agreed that the 10-point winning margin did an injustice to Loughgiel's generous helping of bravery and commitment on the day.

"That was certainly a learning experience for us and we aim to put the lessons to good use now.

"We have a lot of experienced players in our side and they won't be fazed by whatever challenges lurk on the horizon," pointed out Quinn.

Neil McAuley, Liam Watson, Johnny Campbell, Martin Scullion, Barney McAuley, Joey Scullion and of course Quinn himself represent the thoroughbreds in a team that manager PJ O'Mullan has brought to concert pitch.

"It would be nice to go further than we did last year. We set our stall out at the start of the year whereby we wanted to do better and we see ourselves on course to achieve this," said O'Mullan.

Ballycran's last-gasp win over Portaferry in the Down final courtesy of a Scott Nicholson goal has bolstered confidence in a side that will be led by Conor Woods.

Ballycran boast quality throughout but Loughgiel should triumph.

Belfast Telegraph

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