GAA Football

Cliftonville star Liam Bagnall playing his part for Down GAA club Glenn

Liam Bagnall, pictured in action for Cliftonville, is part of the Glenn management team this year
Andy Watters

A COUPLE of hours after helping Cliftonville to a 2-0 win over bitter rivals Crusaders in the Irish League, Reds midfielder Liam Bagnall had dashed up the motorway and made a quick change of colours and sporting codes to be on the sideline and encourage his native Glenn to a 1-13 to 2-10 draw against Saul in Down’s Division Two last Saturday.

The John Martin’s club are now managed by Liam’s uncle Tony who enticed the former Sunderland and Darlington player to join his coaching set-up this season and so far it is paying off.

The draw with Saul extended Glen’s unbeaten start to the 2019 season to four games. The club won their first three fixtures and now sit second in the table, a point behind Carryduff who have won four out of four.

“We have made a really good start and we’re missing a lot of players,” he explained.

“We’re missing our three county men – Niall McParland and Shay and Ronan Millar – who are away, so I don’t think the expectancy levels were high from the supporters and people around the parish.

“But I think nearly every club is the same. We played Saval this year and they had Niall Madine away and two or three other big hitters weren’t there so you have to play the hand you’re dealt and you can’t let who’s not there get in the way.

“There are still 25 footballers there that are keen to play and we’ve had a really good solid start.

“In terms of my role, I just concentrate on the defensive side of things and do a bit of work with the back six to try and give us a solid foundation to build from. I’m really enjoying it because it’s first time I’ve been involved in that type of role.”

Bagnall was in action for Cliftonville against Linfield at Windsor Park last night. At 26, he has a lot of football to look forward to but he has reached the stage where he needs to look after his body and give himself time to get over injuries and has been struggling with a groin problem this season.

“I still have a few years in me yet,” he said.

“I’m involved in the managerial set-up as a selector but in terms of playing I’ve had awful bother with my groin.

“I was out injured for three months from September last year and then, because results weren’t going that well, I came back a bit earlier than I probably should have. It’s the first injury that I have really had to deal with in my career and it’s still niggling at me now but I’m just managing it and trying to get to the end of season with Cliftonville.

“I’ll probably need to take a five or six week rest period and let my body recover but I’d love to be involved in some way. We’ll see.”

Before leaving for Sunderland, Bagnall was regarded as a potential Down star of the future and won a Rannafast Cup medal with St Colman’s College, Newry.

“I was lucky enough to win a Rannafast with the College and the lads went on to win two Hogan Cup medals back-to-back which I missed out on,” he recalled.

“My roots are born and bred in the GAA and I played it long before I played soccer.”

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