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John Brennan can extend his Antrim record

By John Campbell

Published 17/10/2015

Starring role: Michael McCann is shining in Cargin’s title bid
Starring role: Michael McCann is shining in Cargin’s title bid

John Brennan has never lost an Antrim Football Championship match in charge of Cargin - and that's a record he aims to extend tomorrow.

The former Derry boss led the Toome outfit to the Antrim title in 1999 and again in 2000 before seeking pastures new but now that he's back at the helm, Lavey native Brennan once again has the Antrim crown in his sights as his team prepare to face Lamh Dhearg in the county final at Ahoghill (4pm).

The blunt, no-nonsense Brennan already laid down a selection marker by leaving long-serving Antrim ace Tony Scullion out of his starting line-up for the semi-final win over Creggan Kickhams and deploying the silken skills of Ciaran Close rather sparingly in the team's journey to the decider.

In doing so, Brennan has emphasised that reputations do not mean a great deal to him as he ponders a third title.

But such is the depth of talent within the current Cargin squad that Brennan finds himself confronted by rich selection options.

Gerard McCann and John Carron look set to start at midfield while a raft of experienced county players including Kevin O'Boyle, James Lavery and Justin Crozier will prop up the defence.

Experienced Antrim dynamo Michael McCann is currently revelling in his free-roaming role within the side, his ability to dovetail between the middle third of the park and the attack proving a salient factor in the strategy which Brennan has painstakingly formulated.

McCann's brother Tómas and Michael Magill bring pace and power respectively to the full-forward line and the Lamh Dhearg full-back division of Chris Nolan, Aaron McAulfield and Marc McGarry will undoubtedly have their work cut out to contain this threat.

Lamh Dhearg may be without the services of the supremely talented Ryan Murray, a gifted marksman, who is injured although his brother Conor could have a big impact at midfield.

The latter was man of the match in what was a hard-earned semi-final win over O'Donovan Rossa (1-13 to 1-12) when Paddy Cunningham's accuracy from all angles and distances once again helped to get the Hannahstown side over the line.

Cunningham is certain to have a key role again tomorrow in terms of his finishing skills and his overall experience in attack.

For the winners, the prize is not just a coveted trophy but an Ulster Club Championship quarter-final meeting with Armagh champions Crossmaglen Rangers.

And that's something that Brennan in particular would clearly relish.

Belfast Telegraph

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