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Cunningham is fired up to end absence from Antrim jersey



In again: Paddy Cunningham

In again: Paddy Cunningham

�INPHO/Presseye/William Cherry

In again: Paddy Cunningham

Six years have elapsed since Paddy Cunningham last wore the Antrim senior football jersey.

In that period he has battled a serious illness, won a Senior County Football Championship honour with Lamh Dhearg and helped to foster the careers of many young players.

But right now he is in line to return to duty with the Saffrons. He could see game time in the Allianz League Division Four opener against Wexford at Glenavy and is convinced that victory would provide an early boost for Lenny Harbinson's side.

Cunningham's experience, free-taking ability and motivational qualities are viewed as considerable assets going into what many people believe will prove the most competitive overall league programme for some time.

"There is no doubt that the league has taken on a new status, particularly with Tier Two of the All-Ireland Championship just round the corner," pointed out Cunningham. "When I was invited back into the squad I was only too glad to accept and now I hope to repay the faith that Lenny has shown in me.

"I have been proud to wear the Antrim jersey in the past and I hope that I will now get the opportunity to help the side in their bid to get out of Division Four."

Schoolteacher Cunningham skippered Antrim in their last Ulster final appearance in 2009 when Tyrone were their conquerors and he is hopeful that the fresh tranche of talent within the squad, coupled with the experience of some elder statesmen, will see Antrim flourish.

"The team just lacked consistency in the league last year and I feel if we can string a few results together anything is possible," stated Cunningham. "There is a good buzz in the camp and we are keen to get into action. Wexford have a new manager in former Kerry All-Ireland winner Paul Galvin and he will have them up for battle at Glenavy on Sunday.

"We have to be sure that we are up for the challenge on this occasion."

Belfast Telegraph