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McNaughton and McKinley will remain at Antrim's helm

By Declan Bogue

The Antrim county board has successfully persuaded the four-man 'interim' management team of Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton (Cushendall), Dominic 'Woody' McKinley (Loughgiel), Gary O'Kane (Dunloy) and Neal Pedan (St John's) to remain in position for next year.

The quartet will take charge of the Saffrons' senior hurling team in 2017 after the clubs ratified the recommendation of the county executive committee last night.

It is understood that the four-man team will be more of a management collective, rather than the traditional arrangement of a number one and several selectors after that. They will head up Antrim's bid to escape Division 2A of the National League and capture the Christy Ring Cup.

Last week, county chairman Collie Donnelly dropped a large hint when he said: "We had a meeting with the lads who were there. Some of them may have some interest going forward, some may not, but it is important just to have a review. We've a lot of experience there and we wanted to have an overview on what their opinion is."

McNaughton and McKinley had previously formed a management team, leading the senior team for a few years and raising expectations by blooding an exceptional minor team they had coached.

And they could be in for a major boost as Neil McManus is believed to be travelling home from San Francisco, having lost the Western Board final on Sunday, his Na Fianna side beaten 1-21 to 1-10 by Naomh Padraig.

The meeting also rubber stamped another year in charge for the joint football management team of Frankie Fitzsimons and Gearoid Adams.

The two men achieved promotion from Division Four of the National League and although they had a disappointing Championship, there are enough signs of progress for them to look forward to life in Division Three next year.

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