Hurling and camogie

Antrim legend Terence McNaughton relishing task at Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh

Antrim hurling great and ex-Naomh Eanna manager Terence McNaughton
Francis Mooney

Antrim hurling legend Terence McNaughton has been appointed manager of Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh.

The former Allstar says he’s excited by the new challenge and his first experience of Tyrone club hurling.

His major priority will be to win back the Benburb Cup from fierce rivals Carrickmore, who halted Dungannon’s bid for a third successive county championship last season.

“I’m not coming with a magic switch, but I love hurling,” he said.

“There were good hurlers in Dungannon before I ever arrived. I’m not here to teach people how to hold a hurl, but I can bring a wee bit of experience.

“They asked me a few times down through the years, and with the way it was, it didn’t suit. So I was able to do it this year, and I’m looking forward to it.”

McNaughton is familiar with Eoghan Ruadh, who play their league hurling in Antrim, and came into direct competition with them several times as manager of Naomh Eanna.

“I have got to see Dungannon with my own club, their juvenile clubs have been coming up to us for years, and more often than not, they put manners on us.

“So I have been watching Eoghan Ruadh for years.

“Dungannon have some lovely hurlers.

“When I was involved with Naomh Eanna in Belfast, we played Dungannon often in the League, and then we played them in the Ulster Club final.

“Every game in the Division Two League in Antrim that I was involved in, you could have lost every game and won every game, they were that close.

“There were no walkovers, and I really enjoyed being involved in it. There were some fantastic games.

“It’s far more competitive than Division One, for there’s always four or five games in Antrim where the big guns walk over teams.”

He also opposed Dungannon in the 2019 Ulster Club Intermediate Championship final, which Naomh Eanna won in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after the sides couldn’t be separated by extra-time at Celtic Park.

McNaughton felt a replay should have been held rather than the ‘finish on the day’ approach which led to a penalty lottery.

“That game could have gone either way. Probably a draw would have been a fair result, to come back another day and come back another day to settle it.”

The new Dungannon boss plans to give every available player a chance to impress when the league gets under way.

“There’s a lot of the guys who are maybe not in the first fifteen who are going to get a lot of game time.

“Obviously, there’s a good number involved with the Tyrone county team, so they’ll not be available for a lot of the games as we go forward.

“It will give us a chance to see everybody in a match situation, and when we get towards the business end of the season, we will have a better idea of what we have.”

Dungannon and Carrickmore have between them dominated Tyrone hurling for many years, and Eire Og will also be managed by an Antrim man in the season ahead.

“I’m getting to know a bit more about the rivalry now.

“They have been fierce rivals for years, and there’s an old colleague of mine, Cormac Donnelly, who I coached as a county minor with Antrim.

“Cormac is a great fellow and an up and coming coach, and he’s involved with Derry as well. It adds a wee bit of spice to it.”

The opening of Dungannon’s impressive new ground in 2015 brought an end to years of sharing with local clubs and provided top class facilities for a growing Eoghan Ruadh membership.

“There’s a great hurling pitch, with floodlights and excellent changing rooms and facilities, and that’s in a county very much dominated by football,” said McNaughton.

“I think it’s a credit to everybody involved to do that in place surrounded by totally football-orientated clubs.”

The Saffron influence in the Red Hand county has been further galvanised by the appointment of Ballycastle’s Michael McShane as Tyrone senior boss.

“I think Tyrone have to be one of the favourites to win the Nickey Rackard Cup.

“Mickey is a very experienced coach and he has done great work with Slaughtneil, and I wish him well. You’d like to see any Ulster team do well.”

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Hurling and camogie