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St Gall's will be back: McGourty

By Declan Bogue

Published 08/09/2015

End of an era: St Gall's celebrate their 13th Antrim title in 14 years but that run was ended by Cargin on Sunday
End of an era: St Gall's celebrate their 13th Antrim title in 14 years but that run was ended by Cargin on Sunday

St Gall's veteran Kieran McGourty has warned rivals that the Milltown Row club are not a spent force despite their incredible run of 13 Antrim football Championships in 14 years coming to an end on Friday night with defeat to old rivals Erin's Own Cargin.

The Toome side are managed by John Brennan this season, as they were when they broke the St Gall's strangehold in 2006.

While the former Derry manager's ability to motivate was, undoubtedly, a factor, McGourty has dismissed claims that the nucleus of the St Gall's team are aging. Along with himself, other proven performers on the team include Sean Kelly, Aodhan Gallagher, Colin Brady, Kevin Niblock and others, are the far side of 30.

McGourty counters that logic, stating: "If you look at the All-Ireland final team in 2010, from 2006 to that point, there were seven changes to the team and I think there are maybe only five or six starting the other night."

"I think there has been a natural progression. People don't realise that. Richie Hogan was making the point after Kilkenny won their All-Ireland, when he started seven years ago, there are only two players left from that team; himself and Eoin Larkin."

Of the current crop, Niall O'Neill, Jackson McGreevey, Ruairi Wilson and Conor Burke appear to be the group that will drive on St Gall's in the years to come, with McGourty giving manager Carl McCabe huge credit for having handed the younger players their chance.

But McGourty believes the crucial ingredient of experience - a quality that he was praised widely for after coming back into the county football team last year - is not prized enough in Gaelic football.

"If people can look after themselves, then why not?" he asks.

"Obviously injuries and knocks might take a wee bit longer to recover from, but I still feel like the same player I felt 10 years ago."

Asked for the key difference between Cargin this year and previous years, McGourty gives them plenty of credit.

"I don't think I am patronising Cargin here, but they raised the bar so many times and that has been a great reason for St Gall's going so well; they kept improving and we had to match that.

"A couple of times we would have got the breaks and the other night they maybe got a few. Only for a few breaks of the ball, Cargin might have four of five Antrim Championships in the last while.

"I want to win everything for St Gall's, but if you were looking at it in terms of a neutral, it can only be a good thing for Antrim football."

Belfast Telegraph

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