GAA Football

Antrim champions Cargin determined to do themselves justice in Ulster Club Championship clash with Fermanagh top dogs Derrygonnelly

Michael McCann and his Cargin team-mates celebrate winning Saturday's Antrim Football final replay at Corrigan Park. Picture Seamus Loughran.
Andy Watters

CARGIN are determined to “do themselves justice” in next Sunday's Ulster Club Championship opener against Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly at Corrigan Park.

Antrim's top dogs came through an epic replay against Lamh Dhearg last Saturday to win by two points after extra-time. The Erin's Own outfit have only eight days to recover from their exertions but team captain Michael McCann says the side is determined to clinch a win at provincial level after running eventual champions Gweedore close in last year's quarter-final.

“The only thing we talked about was that we wanted another go at it (Ulster),” said McCann the dramatic 3-16 to 0-23 win over Lamh Dhearg.

“We just want another go at it. We think we're good enough, everybody knows that your county championship is always a lot more heated and there is a bit more pressure than when you come up against these teams you don't really know or you don't play week-in, week-out.

“We have a lot of good players, we have a lot of youth coming in, we have a lad there (Pat Shivers) who played an Ulster minor final last week and came in and played a stormer this week.

“I think we have a good mix and there's maybe a wee bit of pressure off now. It was the same last year, the local rivalry with Creggan and it's nearly that you're playing not to lose as opposed to going to win it. Hopefully next week we do ourselves justice.”

Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly won their county championship on September 22. The Harps side have had plenty of time to prepare but they will find Damian Cassidy's physical, pacey and well-organised Cargin side a tough nut to crack next Sunday.

McCann wasn't fit for the extra-time last Saturday evening but he does expect to be fit for the game.

“I should be alright,” said the experienced midfielder. He played last year when a horror first half spell against eventual Ulster champions cost Cargin the game.

“When you watch that match back we had 10 minutes of madness when we conceded three goals before half-time,” he said.

“We left ourselves with an uphill battle but maybe we wouldn't have put in the second half we did if we weren't eight or 10 points down. It's hard to know but we feel we didn't do ourselves justice. Kevin Cassidy (Gweedore full-forward) said himself that maybe they shouldn't even have got out of Belfast and they went on and won Ulster.

“We have had tough draws in Ulster. Out of the last three times we have been in it, two of them (Gweedore and Crossmaglen (2015)) went on to win it and, bar last year, every one has been away.

“We want to give Ulster a bit of a go but all we want is a win on Sunday.”

McCann doesn't expect Cargin's exertions last Saturday – or the celebrations that followed their win - to be a factor on Sunday. The loughshore outfit will return to training tomorrow night and set their minds on a provincial win.

“People talk about tiredness but I think it's sharpness,” he said.

“I'd didn't see much tiredness in Lamh Dhearg, even at the start of extra-time. I don't think it will affect us, I think everybody just wants to play football.”

The win over Lamh Dhearg completed a league and championship double for Cargin. As he received the trophy from chairman Ciaran McCavana on Saturday, McCann joked: ‘Oh, you've brought it with you this time' in reference to the absence of silverware when his club completed their league title win.

On Saturday Cargin were in the boxseat with time almost up in the final only for Lamh Dhearg to kick four points in-a-row and force an extra 20 minutes.

“It took a lot to lift the boys for extra-time,” said McCann explained.

“A lot of heads went down and we conceded the first point in extra-time so it was a five-point swing and still the boys came back. Kevin McShane came in, caught both throw-ins, hit two screamers from 35-40 yards. Michael Clarke hasn't played a minute of championship football this year and he came in and had a stormer at right half-forward, Ciaran Close hit four points when he came on… We have plenty of depth – our bench contributed six points and I think that was the difference, we had a bit more on the bench and we are delighted to get out of it.”

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