Antrim hurling set to lose joint-manager Terence McNaughton
TERENCE McNaughton is expected to step down as Antrim’s joint senior hurling manager at this evening’s scheduled meeting with county officers – and Dominic ‘Woody’ McKinley has already hinted that he could bow out too.
Both McNaughton and McKinley were part of a four-man management team over the last two seasons alongside Gary O’Kane and Neal Peden.
It’s unclear whether O’Kane and Peden will continue and form part of next season’s senior management set-up.
At the outset, McNaughton and McKinley maintained they wouldn’t remain with Antrim for the long haul after stepping in to help their native county in the middle of the 2016 season.
The pair, who have had a couple of spells managing the senior hurlers, had to be persuaded to stay on for the 2017 and together the managerial quartet guided the county back to Division 1B.
Despite excellent displays against All-Ireland champions Galway and Dublin at the start of this season, Antrim suffered narrow defeats and lost a relegation play-off at home to Laois in March of this year.
The relatively inexperienced squad started strongly in the inaugural Joe McDonagh Cup but faded in the final few games and only saved themselves from being relegated to the Christy Ring by easing past Kildare in a play-off.
It was in the aftermath of Antrim’s win over Kildare that McKinley hinted that it was “maybe time for someone else to have a go at it.”
McNaughton’s anticipated decision to step down tonight has been probably made easier by the surprise exits at county executive level revealed in The Irish News at the weekend.
Chairman Collie Donnelly, vice-chairman Terry Reilly and treasurer Pol Mac Cana will step down at county convention after three hugely productive years in their respective roles.
The trio have their own personal and business interests and can no long commit the time to remaining on the county executive.
The Saffrons are facing a major challenge after losing that kind of administrative expertise and experience while there are uncertain times ahead for the senior hurlers with members of the management team expected to move on.