Michael McCann's Antrim return down to Gearoid Adams
MICHAEL McCANN says his return to the Antrim fold was inspired by the introduction of Gearoid Adams to the Saffron management team, more so than the formation of a new county board.
Adams, who previously assisted Liam Bradley during his final season in the hotseat in 2012, was named as joint-manager with Frank Fitzsimons back in October.
Former Allstar nominee McCann had left the Antrim panel in April, citing to The Irish News at the time that he was disillusioned with the level of support the panel was receiving from the county board. The Antrim executive saw sweeping changes earlier this month as six positions were taken by the Saffron Vision group, which announced its formation in October.
However, while praising the "enthusiasm" the new county board has brought to proceedings in its fledgling weeks, McCann said his decision was based on his confidence in the management team.
“I met with Gearoid and Frank about a month ago, just to chat about a few things. They were keen to chat to me and it was face-to-face, there was nothing really over the phone, which was a big thing.
“They wanted to see what the story was. I’ve had a lot on the last while and I just didn’t know if I could commit to it the way I want to commit to it. But after I spoke to them, I feel they’re going the right way. They’re both players’ men. The buy-in from them is big; they’re committed.
“There’s no point me saying it [the new county board] was the reason I went back because it wasn’t. What I did think about was that I’ve worked with Gearoid before, I know what he brings. He’s a massive players' man and has a real attention to detail. Everything’s professional, so I knew that side of things would be of a high standard.”
When he walked away at the end of a National League campaign that saw them start poorly and ultimately fail to escape Division Four, McCann blasted the backing the team was receiving from the county board. He admits now his decision to step away ahead of the Championship was down to more than just the county board’s failings.
“Last year, I walked away because my head wasn’t in it. I wasn’t managing things right and that was putting me on edge and making things not work for me, on and off the field,” McCann told The Irish News on Thursday.
“Going to training was a chore and then, going to play matches, the drive wasn’t there. Showing up to training with no pitches, it was all just building up on me and the drive wasn’t there.”
A full-time quantity surveyor with Lagan Construction, he is also involved in running a gym with three siblings, including his brother Tomás, who is also making a return. Elder brother Michael, who recently became a father for the second time, believes the attitude of the new county board has helped bring a pre-season buzz back to the county.
"I knew with the new county board, there’d be a new buzz because they’re new in the job. Everybody would be mad trying to buy into it and enthusiastic, trying to drive the thing forward and show their changes," he added.
“It’s not a reflection on the old [county board]; it’s just that the new [county board] is so enthusiastic that it’s a good time to go in. We’re trying to change things. I think, old or new, both had their hands tied and couldn’t do a pile. It’s not criticism of individuals on the board; it was more the county as a whole, that we can’t actually provide that. It’s not because of any one individual.
“That enthusiasm of the new board and Gearoid new in and me knowing what he was going to bring to the table, I just thought it’d be the right setup.”