GAA Football

Cargin hero Tomas McCann reluctant to close the door on Antrim career

Cargin's Tomas McCann remains one of the best forwards in Antrim

CARGIN’S county championship semi-final hero Tomas McCann says he would consider rejoining the Antrim senior panel if there was less travelling involved in playing for the Saffrons.

The 30-year-old remains one of the best forwards in the county but he stepped away from county football last season after a 12-year affiliation.

However, McCann, who broke St Gall’s hearts last Saturday with a last-gasp goal that sent the Erin’s Own men into this year’s decider with Creggan, has kept the county door ajar.

“I’d be reluctant to say that my county career is finished,” said McCann, who revealed travelling up and down to Belfast for training had become burdensome.

“The way it is in Antrim at the minute is collective sessions. It would be better if we had somebody coming down to take a session in the Cargin area or the Portglenone area. But in Antrim there is a set destination and you need to be there.

“I just think you can’t be expected to be travelling so many nights in the week. It’s madness. How can you enjoy it?”

The Antrim County Board continues to upgrade the facilities at their centre of excellence base in Dunsilly, in Antrim town.

Recently, the board ploughed more money into improving car-parking facilities at the site.

“To be honest, if the county had the floodlights sorted out in Dunsilly it wouldn’t be an issue. There would be less travelling to get to training,” McCann said.

“But, for some reason, they’re still dragging all the training to Belfast, at Woodlands and the 4G pitches. Whatever way they look at it they don’t have the facilities in Belfast either.”

McCann made his Antrim debut as an 18-year-old during Mickey Culbert’s time in charge back in the mid-2000s before flourishing under Liam Bradley.

McCann was a key figure in Antrim reaching the 2009 Ulster final - their first since 1970 - and has always been regarded as one of the best forwards the county has produced.

McCann is a father-of-three and self-employed. He also helps run the family gym and finds that time is the biggest enemy in resuming his county career.

“It’s harder to do something when you’ve to travel to get there. You’re coming home after a day’s work; you’re tired after being up from 7am and then you’re tearing up the road to training. It’s hard. Before we had kids you were just looking after yourself. Now you’re running your kids to the baby sitter before work… To be honest, it’s hard to enjoy something when you start to revolt against it.”

In an in-depth ESRI study into the lives of inter-county players, commissioned by the GAA and GPA and published last month, travel time for training sessions was deemed an issue for many of the 1,037 respondents.

“You ask anyone in Cargin, if there’s a football match going on I’ll go and play. I just love playing football… [but] the ratio between training and matches is wrong. There are far too many training sessions to play Gaelic. It’s not like you’re getting a match every weekend; you’ve got the National League and then the Championship and you think of the amount of training sessions for those games.”

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