GAA Football

Nomadic Marc Jordan delighted to finally be wearing the saffron jersey

Lamh Dhearg's Marc Jordan made a solid debut for Antrim on Sunday Picture: Seamus Loughran

MARC Jordan has taken the scenic route to make his senior inter-county debut with Antrim after spending the last few years working abroad.

The bustling midfielder was one of the best performers in this season’s Antrim SFC and it was no surprise county manager Lenny Harbinson recruited the Lamh Dhearg clubman for the 2020 season.

On Sunday, the 26-year-old caught the eye in the Dr McKenna Cup win over Fermanagh with a typical all-action performance before his day was somewhat marred by a stoppage-time red card alongside Ciaran Corrigan.

Jordan represented Antrim at minor and U21 level before his school-teaching career took him abroad. He’s been living away for five of the last six years and was last working in Qatar.

“The football was a big reason why I moved back from the Middle East,” Jordan said. “Probably the main reason I moved back was to try and win a Championship with the club and to try and push on with the county this year.

“I’ve been away for the last four years between London, Liverpool and the Middle East primary school teaching. It was tough getting back into it but I’m absolutely loving it.”

“I could have earned more money out there, but the football brought me back. I’m working in Christ The Redeemer Primary School in Lagmore. I’m lucky to be getting a year in there.

Jordan formed a very mobile midfield partnership with Colm Duffin in Ahoghill last Sunday with both men getting into a number of good scoring positions.

“That’s my first inter-county match for Antrim. I played a bit for London. I played bits and pieces while I was away. It’s actually a pretty good standard out there. Niall McParland of Down and Paddy McAleer of Antrim are out there so you were actually playing at a decent standard. But this is a different level here.

“Even from the challenge games, it was just another level [against Fermanagh]. It was probably a shock in the first 15 minutes. I was like a deer in the headlights, but we settled and we got our defensive system in shape and we were able to transition a bit better. You just couldn’t carry the ball into the tackle.”

He added: “I’ve loved the last couple of months and being back with the club. I didn’t get much of a break after the club finished and I was straight back into it but I’ve loved everything about it.”

“It was great to be part of that Championship run – the Portglenone and Cargin games – but it didn’t go our way. But it gave us the experience for next year. Then Lenny rang me the following week and I was straight back into training. I had a bit of fitness, so pre-season was a little bit easier.”

His and Corrigan’s joint sending-off in the dying seconds appeared harsh so Jordan doesn’t know whether the help of video evidence will free him up to play in Antrim’s second and final group game against Down in Newry tomorrow night.

“We’ll see what happens but the most important game for us is Wexford at the end of the month.”

However, Jordan’s showing against the Ernemen on Sunday has given Harbinson food for thought as he surveys his options for the January 26 opener against Paul Galvin’s side in Glenavy.

“Obviously you want to start every game but you’ve to be realistic,” Jordan said.

“I’ve been out of senior football for four years so I’m just delighted to get a start [against Fermanagh] and I’ll take each game as it comes. There are a lot more players to come back – Marty Johnston, Paddy Cunningham, Tomas McCann – so there’s a lot more competition for places. Our target is Wexford in a couple of weeks.”

Cunningham was named to start against Fermanagh but was replaced by Lamh Dhearg team-mate Conor Murray, while McCann is likely to miss the first couple of Division Four games after undergoing minor surgery.

Antrim have lost the services of star forward Matthew Fitzpatrick, who has signed an 18-month semi-professional deal with Irish League side Coleraine, as well as Dubai-based Ryan Murray from last season’s Saffron attack.

Harbinson is also trialling Creggan goalkeeper Oisin Kerr following Padraig Nugent’s switch to soccer with west Belfast club Belfast Celtic along with 'Rossa clubman Stephen Beatty.

Antrim’s attack has been replenished by the return of McCann and Cunningham while Creggan’s highly-rated Conor Small is back in the fold as is St Enda’s, Glengormley trio Odhran Eastwood, Eoin Nagle and Ruairi Scott.

Highly regarded defender Peter Healy is also back after stepping away from the 2019 panel.

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