Former Antrim ace Kevin Madden has just set himself a double target embracing club and county football.
Madden, a fixture in the Antrim side for a decade during which he consistently finished as top scorer, is hoping to steer the Portglenone Casements team which he trains into the county final at the expense of rapidly emerging St Brigid’s as a prelude to focussing strongly on helping to bring success to Derry in 2010.
Madden, the Oak Leaf squad trainer, is an invaluable component of manager Damian Cassidy’s back-up team and as such, is desperately keen to see Derry flourish on the championship stage next year following their tame Ulster Championship semi-final surrender to Tyrone and their agonising one-point defeat by Donegal in the All Ireland Qualifiers this summer.
For someone whose own playing career was brought to a rather premature halt for medical reasons, Madden retains a strikingly infectious enthusiasm for football and, having brought Glenullin to concert pitch for their Derry championship title coup two years ago in tandem with then manager Liam Bradley, he is already fired up to help propel the county team to national prominence.
But right now he is focussed in bringing the Portglenone outfit he served so well as a player into what would be their third county championship decider in five years.Yet, despite his enormous contribution to club and county, he himself never got to kick a ball in a county final.
“I had a cruciate ligament injury in 2005 and missed that final and I had stepped down just shortly before the 2007 decider so I missed out again,” explains Madden.
Not surprisingly, his hunger to see Portglenone established as the premier club in the county has intensified but he readily acknowledges that they have “a big mountain to climb” if they are to become kingpins.
“We have a lot of good players in our side – boys like Niall McKeever, Paddy Carey, Tony Convery, Gerald McAleese, Gerard McCrickard, Eoin Doherty, John McKeever and Martin McCarry among others.
“But we know that St Brigid’s whom we meet in the semi-final will be led by James Loughrey who has had such a great year for Antrim. Don’t forget St Galls, the reigning champions, and Cargin are still in the mix and these are particularly strong sides too,” maintains Madden.