Marc Jordan keen to kick-start his Antrim career under new boss

Marc Jordan is fully fit again after a suffering the ill-effects of COVID last year Picture: Cliff Donaldson.
Marc Jordan is fully fit again after a suffering the ill-effects of COVID last year Picture: Cliff Donaldson.

MARC Jordan admits he shouldn’t have been anywhere near the Antrim senior football squad when the inter-county season resumed last year.

A few days out from Lamh Dhearg’s club championship semi-final with Cargin back in September, he’d contracted COVID19.

He tried to convince himself that it wasn’t COVID at all and that he’d be fine to play – until a positive test was returned.

“I couldn’t even get out of bed and I shouldn’t have been anywhere near the football after that,” Jordan says.

“I actually got a long dose of it. I’ve still no smell at all. My taste isn’t too bad, only a lot of food tastes the same to me.

“I’d be up on the family farm and I literally can’t smell the cow sh**...”

Jordan thought he’d shake off the after-effects of the virus and return to Antrim duty the following month and hopefully be part of Lenny Harbinson’s side that would finally clinch promotion out of Division Four.

But then Wicklow happened. Antrim were absolutely mauled 7-11 to 0-7 down in Aughrim and promotion was suddenly out of their hands.

Jordan didn’t have a leg under him.

“I remember saying to one of the lads it was like playing against the All Blacks but it was more because I was that bad,” he says now.

In their ‘home’ game against Waterford in Dundalk, he lasted just 29 minutes and played the final quarter of an hour in Antrim’s Ulster Championship defeat to Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Antrim and Jordan season crashed and burned.

It was only around February Jordan felt completely recovered. He met up with Antrim team-mate Patrick McBride for some lung-bursting runs around Falls Park. Once he could stay with McBride he knew he was good to go.

It’s likely too the 27-year-old schoolteacher will be relived of midfield duties in 2021 and moved to a more preferred wing-back or wing-forward role in Enda McGinley’s new set-up.

“The conversation I had with Lenny last year was he didn’t really want to play me midfield but I was kind of stuck there because we didn’t have Mick [McCann] or Niall McKeever or a couple of boys from Creggan and Cargin.

“But I think the depth that we have this year I was able to have a conversation with Enda and I felt far more comfortable playing wing-back or wing-forward, which suits me better.”

He adds: “We had our first challenge game there and I remember thinking back to the Wicklow game and I couldn’t catch my breath. But at the weekend I felt 110 percent.

“But it’ll be a different ball game, a different level come Saturday [against Louth].”

While there appears to be more interest in who’ll be patrolling the sidelines at Geraldine’s GFC, Dundalk tomorrow – the venue Antrim hosted the Waterford footballers last October – than who’s actually on the pitch is immaterial to Jordan.

It’s a quintessential Tyrone affair: Enda McGinley and Stevie O’Neill will be in one technical area making their bow with Antrim and Mickey Harte and Gavin Devlin are making their debut with Louth.

There are more All-Irelands among them than they’d probably care to remember.

“It’s probably a nice story for the papers. Enda and Stevie aren’t playing, although Stevie probably could! I wouldn’t mind having him coming on for 10 minutes. When he picks up the ball during a drill and runs with it for 10 yards you think he could still play.

“But when the ball is thrown in the last thing they’ll be thinking about is who’s managing the other team. It’ll be Antrim versus boys from Louth. The Tyrone side-story won’t matter when the game starts.”

Both Antrim and Louth will want to put their best foot forward and get their Division Four North campaign off to a winning start tomorrow before contemplating games against Sligo and Leitrim.

With just a four-week lead-in to this season’s truncated NFL season, the Antrim players and management team are still getting to know one another.

And this notion Tyrone’s All-Ireland-winning pair would arrive in Antrim and sprinkle the players with star dust was quickly dispelled.

“We’re not doing anything madly different,” says Jordan, who is only in his second season with the Antrim footballers having worked in Qatar for several years.

“Enda and Stevie don’t have this magic formula. People ask you: ‘What are they doing, what are they doing?’

“It’s simple stuff. It’s basic skills and being able to execute them under pressure.

“I’m sure Mickey Harte is saying the same to the Louth boys; they’re probably hearing a lot of the same stuff that we’re hearing.”