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John Brennan delighted as Cargin secure back-to-back crowns

Antrim SFC: Cargin 1-10 St Gall's 0-06

By David Mohan

Cargin were celebrating back-to-back Antrim Senior Football Championship titles as a commanding first-half performance gave St Gall's just too much to do in yesterday's final at Corrigan Park.

The defending champions took advantage of a considerable first-half wind advantage as they stormed into a 1-9 to 0-2 half-time lead and had more than one hand on retaining their title.

The tenacity, hunger and fluidity of the Toome side came to the fore as they opened a gap that never looked like being closed against.

It's said it takes a good side to win a Championship, but a great side to retain one and there could be no argument that Cargin were that great side yesterday.

As the backslaps, hugs and roars emanated from those in green and white at the final whistle, their manager John Brennan paid tribute to his two-in-a-row winners who have completed a Championship and league double.

"I'm just so proud of Cargin because they are an exceptionally talented group of players," said the Derry native.

"I don't want to be controversial, but I think Cargin would do better playing football in Derry against better opposition. It's not very exciting, and this is no disrespect to other teams, but to come and win games by 15 or 20 points (in the league) when you are at the level Cargin are at.

"We had to play matches outside the county to get to that level. We have been playing better in-house matches at times."

Having never lost to Cargin in a county final, there was grave disappointment for St Gall's, but the always classy Sean Kelly paid tribute to the victors.

"We can't get away from the fact they played better football," he said. "Hats off to them. When we were successful we knew it didn't come easy. We knew that because when we were champions it didn't mean we were going to be champions again the next year. You have to work at it."

For Cargin, they will enjoy the celebrations before switching their focus to the Ulster Club Championship against the Tyrone winners on Sunday week.

"The elements were very much in our favour in the first half, but I think credit to our defence, they kept their shape," added Brennan.

"St Gall's have been a fantastic team, have had great footballers in the past, but this is Cargin's chance to go on and do better.

"We were a bit inexperienced going into Ulster last year and we know the Tyrone team will be favourites, but we will give it a go."

Cargin: J McNabb; D McKeever, M Kane, K O'Boyle; R Devlin, J Crozier, J Laverty; G McCann, J Carron; K Close (0-4, all frees), M McCann, P McCann (0-1); T McCann (1-3, 0-1 free), R McKernan (0-1), M Magill (0-1).

Subs: E McGrogan for C Close (30 mins), O McAuley for R McKernan (49 mins), M Kelly for T McCann (54 mins), D Johnston for E McGrogan (black card, 54 mins), T McCann for G McCann (56 mins), T Scullion for M Magill (60 mins).

St Gall's: C Kerr; C Brady, A McClean, T Ó Ciarán; M Kelly, S Kelly, J McGreevy; S Burke, A Gallagher; C O'Kane, B Bradley, N O'Neill; K Stewart (0-1), K Niblock, M Pollock (0-1). Subs: A Healy for M Kelly (22 mins), CJ McGourty (0-4, 1 free, 1 sideline) for B Bradley (HT), K McGourty for K Stewart (35 mins), C Burke for A Gallagher (35 mins), J Munce for C O'Kane (51 mins), R Wilson for J McGreevy (black card, 60 mins).

Referee: Brendan Toland (Lamh Dhearg)

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