Antrim's Michael McCann calls time on county career
ANTRIM have included a host of new faces in their Dr McKenna Cup panel, but one man who will no longer be lining out in the Saffron jersey is Michael McCann after the Cargin ace called time on his county career.
McCann had hinted back in September that this could be his last year, having represented Antrim with distinction for the past decade. And it has been confirmed the 31-year-old forward intends to focus on his club career with the reigning county champions.
“Michael has given tremendous service to the county and has decided to move on,” said Antrim joint-boss Gearóid Adams.
“Since himself, [brothers] Eamon and Tomás opened the new gym, his time isn’t his own. Michael’s still one of the best, if not the best club player in Antrim, so he will be badly missed, but county football moves on. With Michael moving on it will be a chance for someone else to take that leadership role.”
The new-look Antrim panel includes three players from intermediate champions Aghagallon among a host of new faces as Adams and Frank Fitzsimons seek to boost their panel.
Ruairí McCann and Martin Johnson are the only players included from county kingpins Cargin although the likes of Kevin O’Boyle and Creggan’s Ricky Johnston, who will play for Ulster University in the McKenna Cup, are expected to return in time for the National League.
Despite the loss of McCann and Brian Neeson, who has committed himself to soccer outfit Carrick Rangers next year, Adams insists there is still enough experience within the panel to help the new recruits bed in.
“Kevin Niblock, Conor Murray, Tomás McCann, Kevin O’Boyle, Sean McVeigh, there are guys like that who are coming back and bring a good deal of experience,” he said.
“But if we’re going to do anything, we have to find some new blood to go with the experienced guys. So we have gone around most of the championship matches this year to see if there’s anybody out there with the potential to play at county level. The McKenna Cup will let us know whether they are of that standard or not.”
Another man who will line out for UU rather than Antrim in the McKenna Cup is Niall McKeever. And Adams admits it is unclear whether the towering midfielder will be available for their Division Three campaign, which gets off to a difficult start away to All-Ireland semi-finalists Tipperary on February 5.
He said: “I’m not too sure.
“At the minute, Niall’s with Jordanstown, he declared that quite early and he’s doing a masters, so that’s where it sits at the minute. We’ll get a chat with Niall, but we just know he’s under a bit of pressure, he has a new job as well so he has two or three things on the go.
“He’s the type of guy you probably don’t need to see at this time of year anyway so we’ll give him a shout next year.”
ANTRIM'S McKENNA CUP PANEL
C Kerr, K Niblock (St Gall's); R McCann, M Johnson (Creggan); M Johnson, C Hamill, P Gallagher (Glenavy); J Laverty, T McCann (Cargin); D Lynch, C Murray, R Murray, S Tully (Lámh Dhearg); S Beatty, S Donnelly (O’Donovan Rossa); R Scott, P Healy (St Enda’s); R Hanna, S McGarry (Aldergrove); P Brannigan, O Lenaghan, E Walsh (Aghagallon); P McAleer (All Saints'); P McBride (St John’s); N Delargy (Portglenone)