GAA Football

Coming out of retirement has been good for me: Cargin's Michael Magill

Michael Magill has returned to Cargin ranks to keep goal

CARGIN’S stand-in goalkeeper Michael Magill says he was happy to come out of retirement for one last championship assault as it has helped him cope with his father’s death earlier this year.

The former Antrim footballer had hung up his boots after Cargin completed their three-in-a-row last season but with regular ’keeper John McNabb sidelined with a bad knee injury, boss Damian Cassidy sent out an SOS to Magill.

The 37-year-old had to think long and hard about answering his manager’s call, but with the significant help from former Derry goalkeeper Barry Gillis, Magill felt confident enough to don the unfamiliar number one jersey.

Off the field, he also experienced life’s tremendous highs and lows last March when his daughter Grace was born two days before his father passed away.

“I was retired, but you get to hang out with the boys again,” Magill said.

“You’re playing in a winning team and now we’re playing in a semi-final of the championship, so it’s great. If somebody smacks in four goals, it’s not so great! I enjoy the craic with the lads and it’s good for me.

“Grace, my daughter was born, and then I lost my father a couple of days later. He was buried on St Patrick’s Day and he’d love to see me still playing – maybe not so much in nets though. I’d initially stepped away because of that. Granted, I’m 37 and the young boys were flying...

“So I was hesitant about coming back to do nets because [you think] is it a regression going from full-forward into nets?

“That was my mindset and it’s a terrible mindset, but it’s a great eye-opener to see how tough it is. It is a totally different position. It’s almost like being a referee, before you slag off a referee.”

He added: “It’s terrible saying it but once you thought a goalkeeper was a failed outfield player. I played a bit of soccer, not at a great level but see when you’re kicking off the tee and you’ve men running, it’s an art and it’s a very tough one to perfect. You could see Chris Kerr of St Gall’s against us and he’s excellent.”

Despite his hesitation, Magill has shown a great understanding for the role and with his outfield ability, he’s never afraid to leave his goal and join in the attack.

“It’s great. You’ve no-one marking you,” he joked.

“You’re playing with a lot of good defenders, you’ve good options in midfield and there’s a good young team there. It’s the unfortunate situation we’re in as Johnny [McNabb] injured his knee so he’ll be back soon. He is the man for the role but it’s an easy team to come into.”

In a bid to convince Magill he was good enough to keep goal for the Antrim champions, Cassidy recruited Gillis to help the attacker adapt to the new position. Without the Magherafelt man’s contribution, Magill would never have been convinced to play in goal.

“Barry Gillis came in and helped out. The stuff he taught me you just wouldn’t have picked up, honest to God. It almost gives you that security, it gives you an infrastructure for kicking and it puts your mind at rest.

“There are techniques involved, it’s not just kicking a ball off the ground, it’s tough. Barry just made things more comfortable for me. If he hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have continued with it."

After overcoming St Gall's last Saturday, Cargin now face Creggan in this weekend's semi-finals - a repeat of last year's decider.


“There were a lot of emotions involved in coming back. It’s a game of football and I’m enjoying it. If we win the semi-finals, we’ll be in a final and that’ll be great and to get another medal would be fantastic.

“It’s not quite a rejuvenation but it gets me out and playing a bit.”



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