St Gall's pairing was the final Cargin wanted - Michael Magill
CARGIN forward Michael Magill admits Sunday’s showdown with St Gall’s is “the final we wanted” as the Toome men bid to cement their place as county kingpins.
St Gall’s had held the Indian sign over their rivals in recent years, most notably notching up wins in the Antrim SFC deciders of 2013 and 2014. But that run came to an end last year when Cargin sent the Milltown men packing in the opening round of the championship, abruptly railroading St Galls’ bid for a ninth consecutive title.
Cargin saw off Lámh Dhearg in last year’s Antrim final but, with the teams who between them have shared the last 17 titles set to go toe-to-toe at Corrigan Park on Sunday, there is a huge sense of anticipation around the county.
“It was a big step to get by St Gall’s last year, it took a lot of pressure off us – it was a monkey off our backs,” said Magill, who scored five points from play in Cargin’s semi-final win over St John’s.
“We’re not going out to defend our title, we’re going out to win a second one and I think there’s a key difference there. We feel we’ve so much more to achieve. We have a lot of youth coming through, a good footballing team, and I think that’s why we like playing St Gall’s because they’re very similar.
“Different teams have periods of dominance – the Johnnies were the team in the early ’90s, and St Gall’s have been the shining light in Antrim football for the past decade or more. But we’ve been knocking at the door for a number of years, this is Cargin’s fourth final in-a-row.
“Obviously getting wins over St Gall’s in league games and championship like last year, I don’t think it affects us mentally, but whether it affects them mentally, I don’t know. It’s nice to challenge them in the final of a championship – this is the final we wanted.”
And former Antrim player Magill will be hoping the presence of manager John Brennan on the sideline can continue to prove a good omen. During two spells in charge of Cargin (1999-2000 and 2015 until the present day) Brennan has yet to lose an Antrim championship match, leading Erin’s Own to three county titles in the process.
Brennan will be gunning to make that four on Sunday, and Magill is glad to have the wily ex-Derry boss in the Cargin corner: “He’s got a great record and if I was to put it one way, I would rather have him standing in our dug-out rather than the other dug-out,” said the 33-year-old.
“He has something about him alright – if you could bottle it and sell it you would make a fortune. He simplifies the game, and that’s a very hard thing to do. It can be easy to over-complicate the game.
“He has vast experience, and I think he just sees football in its simplest form and how it should be played. He’s a good man, a good character to have.”