GAA Football

Cavan Ulster Championship clash must be at Corrigan Park says Antrim manager Enda McGinley

Antrim manager Enda McGinley says the county has to get rid of its inferiority complex. Picture: Seamus Loughran.
Andy Watters

ANTRIM will resist any attempt to move next year’s Ulster Championship quarter-final against Cavan away from Corrigan Park.

Saffrons’ manager Enda McGinley pre-empted any debate over switching the tie from Belfast’s Whiterock Road to a neutral venue at Saturday night’s Antrim Allstars function.

“There's already a plan for a protest because it has to be Corrigan Park," said McGinley.

"I'd imagine the Ulster Council might try to shift it, we'll see how that develops but it would be amazing to get playing against Cavan at Corrigan Park.”

With Casement Park closed, Antrim had to give up home advantage against Tyrone in 2019 (the game was played in Armagh) but the county was allowed to play a Qualifier against Kildare at Corrigan later that summer.

Last year Antrim led at half-time but lost by four points when they met Cavan (the eventual Ulster champions) and home advantage could prove vital as McGinley’s men seek to end a winless provincial Championship run that stretches back to 2014.

“Plenty of people have met me and said: ‘Good enough draw’ and absolutely it is but there’s no getting away from the fact that Cavan will be delighted with it,” he said.

“That’s the problem that Antrim has to address – we have to lose the second class status that we have. There’s no reason for it but it is there and it manifests itself in lots and lots of wee ways.

“I’ve been in other dressingrooms and other set-ups and I’m close to players who are still in those set-ups and there is a mentality and a belief (within the Antrim squad) that there is something magical behind the curtains of these other teams, that they’re doing something different or extra-special.

“When you’re out on the pitch as a player you’re immediately in that second-class mindset. You’re thinking: ‘These boys are doing something different’ and it’s not true at all.

“We have to strip ourselves back to that, believe in ourselves fully and go out as equal citizens. Cavan will be determined, they aren’t a true Division Four side and they’ll want to start shifting up the gears and they’ll be determined to stamp their authority and put Antrim back in their place come championship day. That’s a brilliant challenge for the lads to take on and I’m already looking forward to the thought of it.”

Kickham’s Creggan were this year’s Antrim champions and McGinley said the county championship – which he described as “brilliant” – had unearthed several players with the ability to force their way into his team for that Championship clash.

“Creggan have come away with the glory but there a plenty of teams licking their wounds and there are rumours of big managerial appointments in the club set-up (according to reports, his former Tyrone team-mate Peter Canavan has linked up with John McKeever at Portglenone) so teams are already planning for next year to see if they can convince Creggan to let go of the silverware,” he said.

“Last year I was coming in off the back of Covid and from a position of not having watched the club championship closely. I was coming in trying to learn about everybody.

“I had to get to know everybody all of a sudden and then you were trying to pick out the players that you wanted to go forward. This year we know we have players in the squad that we’re very happy with.

“Paddy (Cunningham) has stepped away after his illustrious career so there will be gaps there to fill but I’d be very happy because there are several players who can come into the panel and push for a first 15 place which is all you want as a manager.”

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