2009 had been a very good year for Antrim football, reaching the Ulster Senior final, the Division 4 final and running Kerry close in the All Ireland qualifier, under the leadership of team manager Liam Baker Bradley. The opening game of the 2010 season saw Bradley come up against his native Derry in the McKenna Cup at Casement Park, a Derry team which included his two sons Paddy and Eoin. Not the most high profile game ever played but it certainly got the juices flowing for Antrim PRO Lawrence Smyth, who reported on the game in his own inimitable way
2010 Dr McKenna Cup round-robin
Aontroim 3-7 v – Doíre 0-15
Guts and Grit won the day for Antrim in Casement Park and Liam Bradley would have every right to be smiling right now, as he ‘savours the flavour’, after a testing win against his own sons and his native county men. However, Baker would have had good reason to be worried at outset, as Derry replied to an early Antrim point, piled on the pressure and then went on to notch up one point after another to take a commanding lead for a time.
Derry certainly looked ominous at this stage, until big Michael Magill responded for Antrim with an all important goal to bring them back into contention. The early rounds of this battle went to Derry.
A watery wintery sun was well in evidence, the ground both heavy and sodden. There was little by way of bounce, seen or expected from a cold wet ball and for a time the match had little buzz or sting but then a new found grit emerged, from within the Antrim side; a half time ‘prayer meeting’, ‘Baker’ style, demonstrated that when push comes to shove there is zero tolerance from the Antrim Manager, for anyone even thinking of resting or lying down on the job. A new found fighting spirit has been embedded within Antrim senior football squad; a winning spirit instilled by ‘Baker’.
This was not an exhibition match, by any standards, nor could or should anyone expect too much in January. Nevertheless, there was a lot at stake today and a good start to the season for Antrim was all important.
By all accounts it is some 15 years since Antrim had a win over Derry, [if this proves to be is a lie from me, it was one to me] and the margin was very close. Great Goals, crucial to today’s win, from Michael Magill, Michael Mc Cann and Ciaran Close, were to prove to be the heavy guns of the day and when added to Paddy Cunningham’s four points, two more from Eoin O’Neill and one from Darragh Edwards, the day was won.
Last year was memorable and did a lot for Antrim football but this is another year and so it has to be done all over again; so in that context, an early win for Antrim was so all important. To do it in style, [I would say that] with three goals scored, demonstrates consistency and determination with extra effort being demanded to counteract the noted absence of the St Galls lads. I will leave it to others to do the player analysis but for my own part I am delighted for the ‘whole team result’ and what that means to us as a county, going forward into another year of Antrim Senior Football.
Lastly but certainly not least, there was a great turnout of support for both teams today, [pity those who might have come to see Baker’s boys get a whipping :}].such interest and enthusiasm for Gaa lifts players on the field. And for those who do make the effort to turn out, in all weathers, there is something about the atmosphere of live football, even in winter conditions, that has no equal. Casement Park was alive and buzzing today. Some Derry players and supporters must be acutely sensitive to the fact that they as a County, have just been whipped by a team managed by one of their own; they have to hand it to the ‘Baker’. He really is the man to watch.