Tony Scullion is determined to enjoy every minute. of Antrim’s first Ulster football final appearance in 39 years — and for him the build up itself is is akin to a dream come true.
“I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m playing for Antrim in an Ulster final,” he said.
“I’ve been thinking of nothing but Tyrone every minute of the day since we made it through.
“It’s been our total focus. Other years we would have had nothing left to play for at this stage of the summer.”
Scullion has his own very definite views on the turning point in the county’s fortunes.
“I saw a significant change the first night I arrived at training and there was no queue outside the physio’s door,” he said.
“Before that there were boys knocking the door down to get the physio and then lying there for as long as they liked.”
Apparently the new disciplinary regime also applies to training.
“What the new management have brought is total commitment and great enthusiasm. They are very passionate about their football and they know every player inside out,” he said.
“There’s no lying down or feigning injury. You just get up and get on with it.
“Otherwise there will be a taxi waiting for you. Either that or you will finish up sitting beside Liam on the bench.”
The Antrim half back is a big fan of the management team and he regards the new hard line approach as a significant step forward.
“Players now appreciate that toe the management line or else you will soon be heading for the exit door,” he added.
Scullion played under previous managers Jody Gormley and Mickey Culbert and while he had great respect for both men he feels it’s important the manager has no club affiliations.
Antrim football now has a much greater sense of unity that wasn’t always there in the past.
The past two months has seen a transformation in attitudes with the county board united in supporting management and players alike.
It’s no surprise that such a move has coincided with Antrim’s most successful championship surge in 39 years.