Former Derry and Clonoe manager, Damian Cassidy takes over at Erin’s own Cargin where he will be assisted by Ronana Devlin and Kevin Doyle.
Some changes in Antrim for coming season
With the start date of the 2018 season drawing near the division one teams have long since secured management and pre-season activity is well under way.
Although the general theme which may well prevail in most clubs would be to suggest focus on the championship the upcoming league will most certainly occupy full attention from the outset.
Lamh Dhearg ended the recent domination of Cargin and St Gall’s on the championship scene last term when the men from Hannastown bridged a yawning gap to secure the 2018 title.
Mairtin Lynch and Terry McCrudden were at the helm to steer the Lamhs to success and a thrilling final victory over the Johnnies and they will continue again in the same roles again in the season ahead.
St John’s came mighty close to championship glory in 2018 and following a character laden semi-final win gained over the holders from Cargin they just lost out to the Hannastown men in the decider.
The Corrigan side who had been absent from the latter stages of the championship for a while really came good under the watch of Paddy Nugent in 2018 and it has come as a surprise that he has decided to move away from the position for the incoming season.
The charismatic Nugent has moved down the road to take charge at Aldergrove and Gearoid Adams and John Kelly have taken charge at the Whiterock road.
Cargin were scuppered in their quest to make it three senior titles in succession last term when losing out to St John’s following defeat in the semi-final which took a couple of enthralling games after nothing separated the sides in the opening tie.
The Toome men under John Brennan secured the division one league title and the O’Cahan cup as some consolation but there is a change in management this term as the Erin’s Own men have secured the services of Damien Cassidy while Brennan has moved back to management at Lavey.
The former Derry manager who had a very successful stint at Tyrone side Clonoe has taken over the hot seat at Cargin with Ballinderry man Ronan Devlin and Kevin Doyle also involved.
Creggan who have been knocking on the door in pursuit of major honours for a time now will be up for the challenge again this term.
The Kickham’s side have been consistently in the top four in the recent past and the Staffordstown road residents will perhaps feel that their time is about to arrive.
Kevin Madden has been in charge now for four terms and the Casement’s man returns to the top position again in 2018 with St Enda’s club man Gerard Nugent also taking up a management post alongside the former Antrim man.
Aghagallon have improved consistently over the last few years and the recent success gained by St Ronan’s college, in which eight of their lads were involved surely underlines potential within the St Mary’s club.
The Aghagallon boys will return to the club scene with McCrory and Hogan medals pocketed and will supplement the senior panel.
Former Lamh Dhearg and Antrim man Kevin Murray is the man chosen to lead the Aghagallon men into action this term with the assistance of John Devlin.
The draw for the championship 2018 has not been at all kind to the St Mary’s men as they will cross swords with the reigning champions from Hannastown in a preliminary round affair.
Although St Gall’s have not been seen to mount the winner’s podium in championship terms for three years now the Milltown men cannot be discounted, and they will hope for better in 2018.
Former player Sean Kelly retains the managerial position and he is certainly more than capable of leading the former Provincial and National Club champions back to the pinnacle in Antrim.
The former Antrim great will look to parental guidance from his father, also called Sean in the role in the season ahead.
Rossa are well equipped in player power but the Shaw’s road sides dual status does seem to place a burden on those involved.
Paul Close has again assumed the role of manager and will be assisted by his brother Jim.
The Shaw’s road side are well equipped to make an impact judging on the success gained in both minor and under-21 championships last term and they may well prove to be the ‘dark horses’ in 2018.
Casement’s Portglenone have threatened to make a breakthrough over the past few years and the Bannsider’s came close to causing an upset last term in the championship when giving St Gall’s a fright in the quarter final.
The O’Cahan Park residents have been in action early in the Ulster league and have progressed to the semi-final stages of the O’Cahan cup competition.
Jude Donnelly has retained the managerial position at Casement’s and he will be assisted in the role by Seamus Scullion.
Glenavy are back in the big time with promotion gained in an excellent 2017 season they will be back dining at the top table again after a lengthy period in exile in the second grade.
The Chapel Hill residents seem to have a strong panel at their disposal and they will most likely look for consolidation in division 1 as their goal in the incoming season.
The St Joseph’s men have St Teresa’s man Colin Brown at the tiller for the season ahead as their senior team manager who will work alongside Paul Johnston in the position.
St Enda’s, like Glenavy will return to the top grade this season after the Glengormley men gained promotion again to the top grade following a lengthy period in division 2.
The Hightown men seem to mean business as they take their place again amongst the ‘big boys’ having secured the services of former Antrim manager Frank Fitzsimmons as senior manager.
The Lamh Dhearg club man, who was county manager for three years prior to this appointment, will be assisted by Pat Hughes and Thomas McNulty in what looks an impressive managerial line up at Hightown.
Ahoghill underlined their strength in character at the end of last term when they looked in relegation trouble and backs against the wall they secured the necessary points to banish such dark clouds in their very last game.
St Mary’s are long term survivors in the top grade and no doubt the Clooney residents will be a force to be reckoned with again in 2018 and a match for most on their own sod.
John Paul Neeson has taken charge this term and he will look for guidance, and assistance in the role from his brother Stephen, and Nigel Lynn in the managerial positions.
St Teresa’s had to work hard to ensure survival in the top grade again in 2017 but the Glen road residents can prove a match for most on their day.
Sean McGoldrick, one of their former players has assumed the managerial role this term and the men from the top of the Glen road will be well served by the man in charge.