Kickham's Creggan and Ahoghill go head-to-head for top spot in Antrim Championship clash
THE WINNERS of tomorrow’s clash between home side Kickham’s Creggan and St Mary’s Ahoghill will take top spot in Group One after two rounds of games.
Both sides got the better of Portglenone in their opening games (by three-point margins) and tomorrow afternoon’s meeting should be another competitive affair between two well set-up sides.
“Ahoghill played well against Portglenone and deserved the win,” said a member of the Creggan management team, who’d watched last Sunday’s opener.
“They’re well drilled, well organised and they set up to combat Portglenone’s attacking style. Midfielder Niall McKeever was well marshalled, their tackling was very good and when they got their scoring chances they took them.”
Creggan were beaten county finalists in 2018 under Kevin Madden and since his departure to link up with Mickey Harte in the Tyrone management team, his former assistant Gerard McNulty has taken on the bainisteoir bib at the Kickham’s.
Meanwhile, Ahoghill are managed by Derry natives Mick Shaw and Brian Heaney and their battling qualities came to the fore when they won a promotion/relegation play-off to maintain their Division One status this season.
“Every game is going to be hard in this championship,” predicted the Creggan clubman.
“The games have all been quite tight and that’s good. We know what Ahoghill are about they’ve always had good players and maybe now they are finding their feet. They’re always a dangerous team so we’re expecting a tight game.
“They’ll have a spring in their step knowing that if they put in a performance against us and get something out of this match that they’ll be able to progress and then it’ll be a dogfight between us and Portglenone. They know where they are and they know what they have to do and this game could decide how the table pans out.”
Full-forward Paddy Coey slotted over eight points (seven from frees) for Creggan against Portglenone on Wednesday night and hard-working midfield pairing Kevin Rice and Kevin Small also impressed in that game. Antrim goalkeeper Oisin Kerr was accurate from short kick-outs as the Creggan side took their time to work the ball up the field.
The Kickham’s outfit were county finalists two years ago but you have to go back to 1954 for their most recent senior title and this year they have tempered their traditional free-flowing footballing style with a little more defensive steel.
“Creggan is a club that is full of talented footballers and they are renowned for how they play football,” said the team mentor.
“They will always be there or thereabouts but it’s finding that extra couple of per cent to get over the line. There are a lot of teams in this competition who know how to do that and Cargin (county champions) are a prime example of that.
“Experience of how to win games – irrespective of how you win them – is crucial now. That’s how you win championships.
“It’s about who you’re playing against and how you draw out that win. Some of the moves the boys put together in training are lovely but the days of that type of game are over. A very defensive game just eliminates any sort of football that’s being played and nowadays the game is about breaking lines, it’s a hard-hitting game.
“Some teams are working towards playing that style and we see it now quite a lot in Antrim. It doesn’t suit the flair players but we’re realising in Creggan that every team now has their own style – some more defensive than others – and it’s how you break that down.”