GAA Football

Doubt emerges over who faces Kickham's Creggan in Antrim decider

Kevin Small (right) celebrates with Jamie McCann after yesterday's win over Cargin Picture: Mark Marlow
Brendan Crossan at Naomh √Čanna, Glengormley

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship semi-final: Erin’s Own, Cargin 2-7 Kickham’s Creggan 0-16

KICKHAM’S Creggan moved a step closer to ending their 67-year wait for an Antrim senior football championship title after a stunning semi-final victory over three-in-a-row champions Cargin – but who they face in the decider in 13 days’ time was thrown into doubt last night.

Earlier yesterday, St Mary’s Aghagallon won an epic semi-final after two periods of extra-time against Portglenone – two 10 minutes and a further two five minutes - but competition rules may have been infringed.

Portglenone believe the second period of extra-time [2x5 minutes] was in breach of the ‘finish on the day’ protocols and that their semi-final at Dunsilly should have gone straight to penalties after the sides were tied after the first period of extra-time.

It is understood only senior finals require a second period of extra-time to find a winner – not semi-finals. Portglenone have sought clarity on the competition rules and hold out the hope that their semi-final with Aghagallon will be replayed.

The CCC will meet tonight to discuss the matter.

Gerard McNulty’s Creggan side came from 2-5 to 0-7 down at half-time to win by three points in a thrilling semi-final against defending champions Cargin on the Hightown Road.

After suffering final agony in 2018 and 2020, the Kickham’s finally slayed their neighbours yesterday and will look to claim their first senior title since 1954.

Ruairi McCann and Jamie McCann hit five points apiece while Conor McCann, Kevin Small and Marty Johnston performed heroically for Creggan.

“I told the boys at half-time that it was seven scores each,” said McNulty.

“The only reason they were in front was because they got two goals. We sat and we talked about the next 30 minutes. There is resolve and great belief in this team now.

“If you look at the performance of young Ethan Carey [Small] on Jamie Gribbin – outstanding. Young Eunan McAteer – outstanding. The same with Ricky and Marty Johnston. That’s the fittest and strongest I’ve seen Marty Johnston.

“He’s a Rolls Royce and did his job to the letter. The biggest player for us today in terms of strength and leadership was Conor McCann in the middle of the field.”

Amid the euphoria of day, McNulty was quick to acknowledge that Creggan had won nothing yet.

"We’ve only won another game and that’s how we treat this. That’s how we treated St John’s, that’s how we treated Cargin and that’s how we’ll treat Aghagallon [in the final, should their win stand].

“We know there are championships in this team. But they have to win one to win more. Cargin have won three in a row. They are a great club. If you want to meet great people, go up to Creggan and meet them. They are first class.”

Yesterday’s victory was no fluke and was acknowledged by the outgoing champions.

McNulty added: “I was actually delighted we got St John’s [in the quarter-finals] because I think Cargin analysed that game completely differently. I think they thought: ‘We’ll outscore Creggan’.

“They didn’t out-work us, they didn’t out-play us, we were the better team on the day and deserved it. We were hungrier. Cargin had to be beaten at some stage. I know a lot of those [Cargin] lads. I spoke to Mick [McCann] after it and he said we were hungrier than them and that we deserved it.”

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