Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Antrim manager Dawson's woe as fall-out over Mass row continues

Antrim manger Frank Dawson is turning his attention to Antrim's Championship campaign after a difficult league outing
Antrim manger Frank Dawson is turning his attention to Antrim's Championship campaign after a difficult league outing

Antrim football manager Frank Dawson is putting the finishing touches to his Ulster championship squad although he is continuing to sift through what proved a bitterly disappointing league campaign.

The Saffrons made the drop into Division Four and although he makes it clear that he takes comfort from their performance against Monaghan in their last game – they lost by 3-16 to 0-13 – unearthing positives is proving difficult for Dawson.

His team's false dawn was subsequently compounded by the furore over the omission of Tony Scullion and Tómas McCann from the line-up to face Monaghan but Dawson resolutely confirms that "this is in the past."

However, it is understood that Scullion could be omitted from the championship squad and if this is the case, then McCann and his brother Michael may continue to be absentees.

Antrim will renew their rivalry with Monaghan in the Ulster Championship quarter-final in June when they will have home advantage at Casement Park.

This is a must-win game for the Saffrons and there is now a level of anxiety within the county surrounding the participation of Scullion and the McCann brothers in the tie.

A stand-off between Dawson and Scullion and Tómas McCann ensued when the manager informed the two players that they were not to travel under their own steam for the game against Monaghan on Sunday week last after they had informed him they would be attending an anniversary Mass for a family relative.

Dawson remains adamant that he is not prepared to engage in any further public debate on that particular issue.

"That would not do the squad or the county any favours," insists Dawson.

"From my point of view the two lads and the management are aware of exactly what transpired from late Saturday night until Sunday morning.

"However that is all history now and we move forward."

But there is no doubt that the matter has left a sour taste in the mouth with officials "disappointed" that Scullion invoked the media to outline the reasons for the non-involvement of himself and Tómas McCann in the game.

Michael McCann, who has rendered outstanding service to Antrim since his introduction to the squad and has often been hailed as man of the match on occasions when the Saffrons were beaten, withdrew from the squad recently ostensibly for business reasons.

Dawson, meanwhile, continues to take stock of his playing pool and the chances are that amendments will be made for the championship.

And he admits that inconsistency proved his team's downfall in the league.

"We were disappointed to draw with Fermanagh and Wicklow but we still felt that we could stay in the promotion hunt.

"But when we lost our next two games we hit a low point," concedes Dawson.

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