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Cargin manager John Brennan is all out to heal old wounds

By John Campbell

Published 29/10/2015

Sore defeat: John Brennan lost to Crossmaglen back in 1999
Sore defeat: John Brennan lost to Crossmaglen back in 1999

The surname McConville has particular resonance for Cargin manager John Brennan.

Back in 1999, the Lavey man guided the Toome outfit to the first of back-to-back Antrim Senior Football Championship titles under his baton but his side endured heartbreak in the ensuing Ulster Club Championship when a late goal from Jim McConville saw Crossmaglen Rangers advance at their expense.

And having retained their Antrim crown in 2000, Brennan's men endured further heartbreak when they were banned from taking part in the Ulster Club series as a sanction following trouble which marred their county final victory over St Paul's.

If patience is a virtue, then Brennan in particular has had to exercise it in spades in his desire to see Cargin pursue a renewed quest for provincial glory.

Everything comes to those who wait, though, and on Sunday, 16 years after initially locking horns with Crossmaglen Rangers, Cargin get their opportunity to avenge that Ulster Club setback which has remained a blot on their copybook.

For Brennan, back at the helm again and as bullish as ever, the name McConville looms large on the horizon once again.

This time it is Jim McConville's younger brother Oisin, the Crossmaglen boss, who will be doing his best to dismantle Cargin's ambitions of gaining access to the Ulster throne in an Athletic Grounds contest calculated to titillate the taste buds of even the most discerning neutral fan never mind the protagonists' faithful.

Oisin has already completed his homework on Cargin, having taken in their comfortable Antrim final win over Lamh Dhearg.

The 2002 All-Ireland winner with Armagh said: "Cargin will have memories of what happened in 1999 but life moves on. This will be a whole new ball game on Sunday and I know that John Brennan, being the absolutely dedicated manager that he is, will want to try and take his side into the Ulster Club semi-finals. We are primed for a big challenge."

Brennan, who has brought teams in three different counties - Antrim, Tyrone and Derry - to their respective championship titles and served a stint as Oak Leaf County manager before handing over to Brian McIver, is adamant that his past history will not spook his side in what should prove a Halloween weekend sporting treat.

Brennan insisted: "This is where Cargin want to be, striving to win the Ulster title. We have faith in our own ability and while we respect Crossmaglen Rangers and their tradition, we certainly won't be going into the game with any inferiority complex.".

That game against Crossmaglen Rangers is the only Championship game of any hue which Cargin have lost under Brennan. He is determined that the statistic will remain unchanged come late Sunday afternoon.

Belfast Telegraph

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