Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Wedding plans prompt O’Mullan to pull plug on Antrim

PJ O’Mullan has withdrawn from the race to become the new manager of the Antrim hurling side.

The man who brought Loughgiel to Antrim, Ulster and All-Ireland glory last year had been regarded as the short-odds favourite to succeed Jerry Wallace but has now confirmed that he is no longer a candidate for the post.

O’Mullan is due to get married next summer and feels that were he to take on the Antrim job he would not be able to give it total commitment at what is normally the busiest period of the season.

“While I am reluctantly forced to step aside this time round, I would relish the prospect of managing Antrim in the future,” says O’Mullan.

“I will obviously be focusing on other things next year. At the moment I’m out of the house nearly six nights a week because of GAA activity and it could become even more hectic if I were to take on the Antrim job.”

The Antrim board is due to confirm the new county manager on Monday night and it would seem that Gregory O’Kane has now become the frontrunner with Michael Johnston and Kevin Ryan also in the hunt.

Tomorrow O’Mullan’s focus will be on Loughgiel Shamrocks when they meet St John’s in the Antrim championship semi-final.

His side is backboned by a plethora of established Antrim players including the free-scoring Liam Watson along with Johnny Campbell, D D Quinn, Martin Scullion and Eddie McCloskey.

St John’s lean heavily on youth following the progress made by their minor side over the past two years but Paddy Nugent is an experienced goalkeeper and can provide a lead for his colleagues.

In the other semi-final, Cushendall parade high-profile players in Shane McNaughton, Neil McManus, Aaron Graffin and Donal McNaughton while Dunloy will look to Conor McKinley, Kevin Molloy, Michael McClements, Paddy Richmond and Paul Shields for inspiration.

In tomorrow’s Down semi-final Portaferry’s Paul Braniff can spark their attack against Ballygalget while Lisbellaw will renew their rivalry with Lisnaskea in the Fermanagh hurling final at Enniskillen on Sunday (4pm).

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