Tony Scullion is ready to accept a new mantle of responsibility with Antrim.
The dynamic wing-back, an ever-present in his team’s promotion surge into Division Three of the National League last year, will take over as captain for Sunday’s opening round tie against Sligo at Casement Park (2pm).
Scullion, a brother-in-law of his team colleagues Michael and Tomas McCann, will stand in for recently-appointed skipper Colin Brady who is among the St Gall’s contingent that will miss the match because of preparations for their All Ireland Club championship semi-final against Corofin a fortnight hence.
Antrim manager Liam Bradley has been forced to make changes and Scullion will now lead a side that will include Michael Magill in the full-forward line following his timely return after a three-year spell away from county football.
The inclusion of the skillful Magill in the front line will help atone to some extent for the absence of players like Sean Burke and Terry O’Neill while Michael McCann is once again expected to alternate between midfield and defence as the Saffrons seek to gain a measure of revenge for the Division Four final defeat by Sligo in Longford last year.
And two players who found themselves in direct opposition to each other in the UUJ v Queen’s Sigerson Cup fixture on Wednesday will now link up again in Antrim’s colours. Tomas McCann was at centre three quarters for Queen’s and engaged in a lively to head-to-head with Queen’s skipper Justin Crozier but now both are intent on helping their county to get off on the right foot in the league.
Last year’s skipper Paddy Cunningham will also be on duty while James Loughrey, one of Antrim’s most consistent performers in league and championship, will once more carry the flag for the thriving St Brigid’s club in the side.