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Antrim star McGourty enjoying the best of both worlds

Kieran McGourty is hoping that success breeds success.

For earlier in the season he was a central figure in the St Gall’s historic All Ireland Club Championship success.

Equally adept as a hurler, he will tomorrow afternoon line out for Antrim in the Leinster Championship at Parnell Park, the scene of his club’s All Ireland semi-final success.

Most players are content to settle for either football or hurling but Kieran (29), who teaches in La Salle school, manages to keep both going — though not necessarily at the same time.

“I’m more than happy that I can manage to fit both games in and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” he said.

As a son of Sean McGourty it was inevitable that he would excel in sport and on his father’s insistence dabbled in a variety of games.

His father enjoyed success at both Antrim and Ulster level with St Gall’s as well as captaining the Irish basketball side.

The younger McGourty was thrilled with club success on St Patrick’s Day — but not surprised by it.

“We were never that far away in the past so it didn’t come as a big surprise,” he said.

“We always felt the ability was there and that it was a matter of getting things ready to fall into place.

“I was never a huge believer in the value of experience but on this occasion it obviously paid off.

“We had some tough matches too earlier in the season against Cavan Gaels and Pearse Og and that stood to us the further we progressed.”

Earlier this season Kieran was on the St Gall’s side that reached the All Ireland intermediate club hurling decider.

It ended in defeat but it was still progress — and it’s that same level of progress he will hoping for when Antrim cross swords with Offaly in Parnell Park.

“We’re a better side than our league form would suggest and for a lot of counties the league is a time to blood new players and hopefully we’ll see the fruits of that in the week ahead,” he said.

For too long it seems Antrim hurling has been dogged by controversy and the hope is that they can grab the headlines for all the right reasons.

Thomas McCann, who plays for Creggan in Division Four of the Antrim league, will play on the ‘40’. In total the side shows seven changes from the team beaten by Offaly in last season’s meaningless All Ireland relegation play-off.

Antrim boss Dinny Cahill is confident that Liam Watson will be available to start, despite reports he had been axed from the panel last weekend.

“There are a number of young, untried players in our team, but they won’t be found wanting in terms of effort and commitment,” he said. “I cannot really comment on Offaly as I didn’t see them in the championship, but rest assured they will be a hard nut to crack.”

Only last Sunday Kieran |McGourty enjoyed, if that’s the right word, the luxury of sitting back and watching a game.

Antrim came off second best to Tyrone in the Ulster Football Championship at Casement Park, but he remains convinced the Saffrons have something to offer before the summer is over.

He said: “It shows just how far Antrim football has come that we’re disappointed at losing to one of the top teams in the country. I’m a bad spectator at the best of times, but I stuck it out last Sunday.

“Two years ago Antrim were supposed to be one of the worst teams in Ireland. Not any more.”

Belfast Telegraph