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Cunningham setting sights on place in final

 

By John Campbell

Eight years ago Paddy Cunningham sampled one of the highlights of his football career when he skippered Antrim in the Ulster final against Tyrone.

If defeat was the Saffrons' lot on that occasion, then their grit and character ensured that they gave their all against Mickey Harte's more clinical outfit before replicating these qualities in a riveting All-Ireland qualifier against Kerry.

Since then success at club and county level has eluded Cunningham but today he hopes to help take Lamh Dhearg a step closer to what would be their first Antrim Senior Championship title since 1992 by overcoming Creggan Kickhams in the first of the semi-finals at Glenavy (3.30).

While Cunningham (below), Declan Lynch and the Murray brothers Conor and Ryan backbone the side through their experience, the team's overall cohesion will require to surface in abundance against an ambitious Kickhams side - a fact readily acknowledged by Cunningham.

"They have some very talented players, they have plenty of pace and they know how to finish," he stresses.

Ruairi McCann, Ricky Johnston and the Small brothers Conor and Kevin prop up a side that has progressed under the tutelage of ex- Antrim forward Kevin Madden.

Tomorrow reigning champions Cargin will put their title on the line against St John's in the second semi-final at Hannahstown (3.30).

Cargin are laden with seasoned campaigners headed by Michael McCann, James Laverty, Kieran Close, Justin Crozier and Paul McCann.

They will face a St John's side that has looked lively and enterprising to date with Patrick McBride, Jack Hannigan, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Conor Johnston and Michael Bradley very much to the fore.

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