When Antrim surged into last month’s Ulster final against Tyrone, James Loughrey’s all-action displays at wing-back had much to do with their stunning championship odyssey.
Even in defeat against the Red Hands and in that rather unlucky subsequent outing against Kerry in the fourth round of the All Ireland qualifiers, Loughrey’s imposing performances typified the new-found spirit and resolve that have now become the hallmarks of Liam Bradley’s side.
Former Queen’s player Loughrey, currently among the strong candidates for an Ulster Allstars selection, has been at the heart of Antrim’s progress – and now he could be set to enjoy a bonus at club level with St Brigid’s.
A few years ago the club was charting a course through the relative obscurity of Division Four of the All County League.
Today they find themselves bracketed with the county’s elite sides as the countdown to the senior championship title begins in earnest.
St Brigid’s, with Loughrey their driving force at centre-half-back, have been drawn against Dunloy in the next round while several of his county colleagues will be involved in what is regarded as the plum tie of the round, the meeting of those great Falls Road rivals St Galls and St John’s.
No-one in the St Brigid’s club, least of all the modest and unassuming Loughrey, is prepared to count any chickens at the moment but with Erin’s Own, Cargin also on the other side of the draw, there is a strong possibility that the Malone Road outfit could book their place in the decider.
“Obviously we are in the hunt but we are taking things cautiously. There are some very good sides left and any headway we achieve will only be made with difficulty. Still, there’s a great spirit in our side and we are up for the challenge,” says Loughrey.