Just when it seemed that we had successfully covered all the teams in Antrim in our ‘Best 15’ footballers feature I received an e.mail from Gerard Nugent, former McDermott’s player. A blast from the past! Gerard wanted to know if we would include his former team in our ‘Best 15’ feature and I had no hesitation in saying yes. The McD’s had a formidable reputation in Antrim football but at their best were an excellent side who never quite reached their potential, losing six Intermediate finals and a Senior semi-final along the way.
Gerard Nugent’s ‘Best 15’
Sean MacDiarmada 1932-2014
A famous club underpinned by many stalwart families the Maguire’s, Sloan’s, McShane’s, Park, Reid’s, Nugent’s, Campbell’s and not to forget long serving county committee member Charlie Martin a mainstay for the club for years.
I made my debut as a 16 year old in 1990 away to Ballymena alongside some hardy Macs men and played in our final game against St. Comgall’s, Antrim in August 2013. Along the way I amassed some wonderful memories whilst also managing to be on the losing team in 6 Intermediate football finals.
In selecting my ‘Best Ever 15’ I have taken a number of factors into consideration:- length of playing service, overall contribution to the club and family connection to the club. I won’t please everyone and I certainly don’t intend to upset anyone, it’s a bit of fun. My team is also pretty much from the 1980s onwards and is based on players I played with or grew up watching.
Special mention goes to Harry Vernon who I believe was a Macs man and represented Antrim in the 1940s.
My selection is one of only two joint. Martin Linton and Damian Nugent. Two excellent keepers who I cannot split neither of whom would have disgraced the county jersey
Right full back
Special mention to my two muckers Liam and Seamus Reid whose father Billy (RIP) refereed for the club at top level for many years.
My selection though is Bobby McAuley who as well as being an excellent footballer always made sure his opponent knew he had been in a game.
Again lots of candidates and special mention to my friend Liam McArdle.
However my selection goes to Peter Campbell (Jnr). Years of service to the club both on and off the field and also via his father Peter Snr a connection to the clubs very roots. Peter was another who let you know you were in a match
Left full back
Another tough one with the likes of Jim ‘Rico’ Reid and Paddy O’Connor in contention.
It came down to a tossup between Colm McDonald and Dermott McShane. Both excellent man markers but my selection is Dermott whose father Martin ‘Gill’ McShane actually named him after the club
Right Half Back
Plenty of candidates here. Big David Nugent or brothers John or Kevin Maguire could easily have got the nod.
My selection though is big John Sloan to sit in behind the midfield and let the other two half backs run amok. John played for the Macs along with his 3 brothers Gerard, Joe and Tom.
Centre Half Back
Thomas Maguire (Jnr)
Oozed class and would be more interested in attacking so the opposition CHF could never get anything going in terms of their own game. Part of a massive family to represent the Macs including his father and uncles Jimmy, Pat, Gerard (RIP) and Mr Sean McDermott, John Maguire Snr (RIP).
Left Half Back
Another Rolls Royce of a player who also oozed class and at top speed was simply a blur. Also more interested in attacking than defending and represented the Macs at county level. Another second generation selection, son of Sean
Tough to select only two. Special mention to Paul Turley, JP Stitt, Sean Conlon, Jim Murray and my big mate Liam ‘Man’ McCann (RIP)
My first selection is Liam ‘Farmer’ Brown. A magnificent fielder of the ball and an unbelievable engine. I suppose the fact his engine ran on ‘QC’ helped. Another who you knew you were in a match with.
My second selection is Jim ‘The Orangutan’ Derby. Jim had a smashing pair of hands and on its day his left foot could split the posts from pretty much anywhere. Another with plenty of Intermediate final heartache.
Right Half Forward
Again lots of candidates, Thomas Henry, Dan Park whose father Tony (RIP) another long associated with club.
My selection is Gerard McConville. An absolute wand of a left foot who took some of the best scores I ever saw in a Macs jersey. Another second generation selection whose father Plunker (RIP) connects right through the clubs history and was the best umpire we ever had.
Centre Half Forward
My only other joint selection.
Firstly Brendan Tully who ran the show in the Macs treble winning season. Deadly accurate from a dead ball and he pulled the team with him when needed.
My joint selection is Gerard Nugent. I will leave it to others to pass comment!
Left Half Forward
Another tough one as Joe and Tom Sloan were both candidates.
My selection is Christopher Turley who gave years of service in both football and hurling like brothers Paul and Gerard. Chris simply glided across the pitch and was deceptively strong and another who would not have looked out of place with a county jersey on.
Right Full Forward
Thomas Maguire Snr
Represented the club at football, hurling and handball for many, many years and is still winning All Ireland titles in handball. Sold a lovely dummy which left many a defender flummoxed and resulted in lots of scores. Also managed the footballers to one of the Intermediate final defeats.
Again plenty of candidates such as Gerard Turley or Charlie Nugent Snr.
My selection is Sean Kearns, another from the 80s team. An excellent target man who almost always guaranteed a goal and Sean like most of that team let you know you were in a game.
Left Full Forward
Charlie Nugent Jnr
Could easily have went for senior or junior here. Vote goes to Charles Jnr for sheer volume of scores over two decades. Probably the clubs record score taker and always guaranteed you at least 4 or 5 scores a game. Another who tasted more than his share of final defeats.
So there it is my ‘Best 15’. My sincere apologies to anyone I have forgotten to mention no doubt you will let me know. I have tried to be as fair as possible to the two generations of teams I played in. It’s only my opinion I didn’t say it was right, but I do hope it will begin plenty of chat/debate about our great club.
Go raibh mile maith agat
Sean MacDiarmada Abu