Michael McCann back in the Antrim saddle for 2016
MICHAEL McCann was a late addition to Antrim's Dr McKenna Cup 27-man squad which is dominated by powerhouses Cargin and St Gall's. The Cargin midfielder left the Antrim squad last season, claiming a lack of "buy-in" from the county board.
However, McCann has decided to rejoin the Saffrons for 2016 after talks with bosses Frank Fitzsimons and Gearoid Adams. Sweeping changes at county executive level last Monday night may well have contributed to McCann returning to the fold.
Also back are Michael's brother, Tomas and Kevin O'Boyle, while St Gall's players Kevin Niblock, Sean and Conor Burke returned after periods away from the senior set-up.
Brian 'Bam' Neeson is back after a year away. The St John's clubman, who keeps goal for Irish League club Carrick Rangers, hit the headlines with a 1-6 haul as Antrim beat Fermanagh in the 2014 Ulster Championship.
Neeson will add significant firepower to the Antrim attack as they prepare to face Derry, Tyrone and Queen's in the McKenna Cup group stages next month.
Among the new faces are Jack Hannigan and Donal Nugent of St John's, Michael Heinze of Lamh Dhearg and Ben Sinnot of St Brigid's
Meanwhile, five of Donegal’s more senior performers could probably sit out next month’s Dr McKenna Cup competition.
Team boss Rory Gallagher has not included Neil Gallagher, Eamon McGee, Christy Toye, Colm McFadden or David Walsh in his newly named 27-man panel for the opening clash with Down in Ballybofey.
But these five 30-somethings are very much in Gallagher’s long term plans as Tir Conaill face into another season in Division One.
It is understood that the senior players will be training with the rest of the fairly youthful squad and will make a return to action for the opening of the National Football League against Down on January 30.
Kilcar star Ryan McHugh is not on the list, but he will be quite busy with UUJ in the same competition. Gallagher has 12 other debutants in his squad.
Antrim’s Dr McKenna Cup panel: Chris Kerr, Sean Burke, Conor Burke, Jackson McGreevy, Kevin Niblock, (all St Gall’s), Kevin O’Boyle, Justin Crozier, John McCarron, Tomas McCann, Michael McCann, James Lavery (all Cargin), Brian Neeson, Jack Hannigan, Donal Nugent (all St John’s),Conor Murray, Michael Heinze (Lamh Dhearg), Oisin Hamill, Patrick Gallagher (all Glenavy), Jack Dowling, Ben Sinnot (all St Brigid’s), Colm Fleming, Michael Armstrong (O’Donovan Rossa), Sean McVeigh (All Saints), Ronan Hanna ( Aldergrove), Mark Sweeney (St Jude’s), Colm Duffin (Moneyglass), Paddy Kelly (Portglenone)
Donegal's Dr McKenna Cup squad; Mark A McGinley, Danny Rogers, Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath, Stephen McMenamin, Ciaran Gillespie, Jack O’Brien, Eamon Doherty, Anthony Thompson, Caolan Ward, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Frank McGlynn, Tony McClenaghan, Ciaran McGinley, Martin McElhinney, Hugh McFadden, Ciaran Thompson, Odhran MacNiallais, Stephen McBrearty, Michael Carroll, Mark McHugh, Leo McLoone, Michael Murphy, Rory Carr, Martin Reilly, Eoin McHugh, Jamie Brennan.