Antrim SFC: Dunloy the latest pretenders to a crown Cargin have made their own

Cargin boss Ronan Devlin has lauded the ceaseless impact of Tomas McCann.
Cargin boss Ronan Devlin has lauded the ceaseless impact of Tomas McCann.

Dunloy began the year as Intermediate champions. Often perceived as a stepping stone and a pathway across a raging stream of club football, it so rarely paves the way to senior glory. 

A glance behind, and all is at peace. In front, the next step is a giant leap of Neil Armstrong proportions.

The risk in taking that leap is greater than the wet shoes and socks of last year. This time, the current can eat you up and spit you out, right back where you came from. We see it time after time. 

But every so often you have a team like Dunloy. Manager Anthony McQuillan said his charges were “over the moon” to have made the decider. Well, you could paint that same moon blue. A first final in 82 years, and a first shot at glory since 1936. What’s seldom is wonderful.

And all the more with this distinct, fluid, fast, kick-passing game that has devoured arrogance and presumptuousness and the odds of bookmakers, amongst other things. 

But you know when even the dilapidated Casement Park is due a haircut and renovation, there is to be no more hiding in the long grass. Not in Casement, nor Sunday’s venue at Corrigan Park. And especially not when Cargin come to town.

It is a place where the Antrim crown has made almost a permanent home in recent times. It is a place “obsessed with football”, according to manager Ronan Devlin:

“This has been the most successful period in the club’s history and these boys just want to keep that going.”

Sunday is Cargin’s bread and butter. They have won five of the last seven championships. In many ways, they have everything that Dunloy don’t.

In one camp that’s an advantage and in the other it’s a hindrance. On Sunday, it is to be the changing of the guard, or a defiant response to the audacity of the latest challenger in a line that spans a county.