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McCann revels in return to top level competition



We did it: Antrim’s Conor McCann celebrates winning the Joe McDonagh Cup Final

We did it: Antrim’s Conor McCann celebrates winning the Joe McDonagh Cup Final

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

We did it: Antrim’s Conor McCann celebrates winning the Joe McDonagh Cup Final

With the Joe McDonagh Cup secured, the Antrim senior hurling team and captain Conor McCann had one rather solemn task remaining.

The team, management, backroom staff and county board officers made their way over to the corner of Hill 16 and the Cusack Stand that has become a living shrine to the 14 people that were killed on Bloody Sunday, November 21, 1920 while attending the football challenge match between Dublin and Tipperary, and laid a wreath.

There may not have been 100 people in the stadium beyond the playing panels present, but this act was met with a moving silence.

"Our county chairman gave us a speech there before and it was very passionate," explained McCann.

"Antrim people are very passionate about the GAA and we respect everything that's happened. This is an unbelievable stadium and there's a history behind it so we thought it was a good way to mark our respects as a county and a team."

And as soon as that was complete and the Antrim team got a wash, they had to vacate the stadium due to strict Covid-19 measures. It bears repeating; strange days indeed.

"We were just focussed on our own game so it didn't matter what we were doing after this. Our only concern was getting that trophy," said McCann afterwards.

"I don't really care if we stay to watch this (senior) game - I'll see it on TV or something. We can watch that any time."

Limerick and Waterford had their own battle to play out, one that was intensely private to the people present, but for Antrim, even though there was no ticket scramble for the day of an All-Ireland final, it didn't lessen the hype and the expectation upon their group of players. Especially with a place in a six-team Leinster hurling round robin at stake next year.

"Antrim GAA supporters are really passionate and like to get behind their teams," explained McCann.

"We have a massive fan-base and there will be loads of people watching this at home. I'd say there are more people watching that today than there ever was so it was hard to shield the lads (from the hype) but we tried our best.

"We tried to distance ourselves but tried to use that support on the day to drive the boys on."

Belfast Telegraph