Underdogs Cargin in with a serious shout

Ulster Club football championship semi-final

Glen Maghera v Erin’s Own Cargin

Healey Park Omagh-Sunday 1-30pm

Following an excellent win over Naomh Conaill of Donegal in the quarter-final of the Ulster football club championship Antrim champions, Erin’s own Cargin face what looks like an even more formidable task when they take on Glen, Maghera in this Sunday’s semi-final in Omagh.

The Toome men displayed tremendous character a fortnight ago at Corrigan Park as they staged a number of comebacks before beating the Glenties side in a penalty shootout.

The Donegal champions led 0-6 to 0-3 at half time and despite a strong second half comeback by the Toome side, still led by three as the game crept into time added on. Cargin pressed hard in the closing minutes and won a ‘45’ with Michael McCann hitting a short kick to brother Tomas and his inviting lob ended in the Naomh Conaill net as Kevin McShane rose brilliantly to fist the ball home.

McShane was to make another telling contribution at the end of extra time when he came up to show his forwards how it was done by firing over the levelling score to bring the game to penalties.

John McNabb, who has been in inspired form for Cargin this season became the Cargin hero when he saved two of the Naomh Conaill penalties while Michael McCann, Tomas McCann and youngster Cahir Donnelly tucked away their spot kicks to send Cargin through to Sunday’s semi-final.

It hadn’t been the first time this season that the Toome side were forced to dig deep into their reserves of character as it took extra time to separate them and neighbours Creggan in the Antrim semi-final and again against Aghagallon in the final.

The win over Naomh Conaill will surely have tasted the sweetest as it got the Monkey of Ulster first round defeats finally off their backs and they will go into Sunday’s semi-final against the Derry champions with absolutely nothing to lose.

They will start that one as massive underdogs in the eyes of most punters as they face a Maghera side who collected their second Derry title in succession with a win over former Ulster champions, Slaughtneil and their performance in that game was impressive.

Their1-12 to 0-07 victory over Slaughtneil was every bit as emphatic as it sounds. Watty Graham’s were in charge from first whistle until last, but whereas 12 months ago Glen were celebrating history, this felt like an important step on a road that they will hope will lead to an Ulster title.

Cathal Mulholland led the way for Glen with 1-1 while Michael Warnock 0-2, Conleth McGucKian 0-2, Jack Doherty 0-2, Ethan Doherty 0-2, Eunan Mulholland, Conor Glass and Emmet Bradley were all on target for the Derry champions.

Glen were drawn against Errigal Ciaran in the first round of their Ulster campaign and were forced to dig deep against the Tyrone champions before shading a tight contest.

The Tyrone men were the better side in the opening half and went into half-time leading by four before Glen stormed back to outscore them by 2-09 to 0-4 in a second half that was always in the melting pot.

Ethan Doherty, who was superb throughout, grabbed the game’s crucial score. His 36th minute goal tied the game at 3-03 to 1-09 and the Maghera men never looked back after that.

The introduction of substitute Stevie O’Hara gave Glen an added boost, the forward helping himself to two superb points as Malachy O’Rourke’s men edged into a four-point lead in the final quarter.

There was late drama as Errigal had the ball in the back of the Glen net when Ruairi Canavan’s shot came back off the Glen crossbar before Eoin Kelly appeared to bundle the ball over the line.

Errigal’s joy was short lived however as the score was ruled out and so it was on to a place in the semi-final where they will face Ronan Devlin’s Cargin in a game where they will be expected to advance.

That certainly won’t worry the Balliderry man or his management colleagues, Kevin Doyle and Fabian Muldoon. Devlin has stepped up to the management role after assisting former manager, Damian Cassidy for a number of successful years and has certainly impressed in his first year in charge.

Kevin Doyle eats and breaths Cargin football after a long and distinguished career and I spoke to him after the Antrim final and asked him about the draw against Glen Maghera. Doyle was in the side who defeated Carrickmore in Cargin’s last first round success back in 1999 and was clearly delighted to put a series of first round Ulster defeats behind him.

“Glen are a really good side and rightly so will start the game as firm favourites. They beat St Eunan’s last year, a team I rate highly and then Scotstown and probably should have beat Kilcoo so we know what we are up against.

We are no strangers to each other and I’m sure come Sunday week we will know everything there is possibly to know about each other. I’d say I’ve been to 6 or 7 of their games in the last couple of years in the Derry championship. I think it’s a matter of getting the match ups right and going from there and executing the game plan we’ll have in place. We are really looking forward to it and it’s another step to where we want to be” said the Cargin man. 

While Glen Maghera have a side riddled with household names with Conor Glass perhaps the best known and the Doherty’s Ethan and Jack, Conleth McGuckian, Emmet Bradley and Cathal Mulholland all likely to feature prominently on Sunday.

Erin’s Own have their own star men and a number who have performed at the top level with both club and county and who will not be overawed by the task facing them in Omagh.

Leading the way will be Michael McCann who has given a lifeline of service to the Toome club and was still performing consistently with Antrim last year and Mick will be relishing Sunday’s challenge and urging his colleagues to greater efforts.

John McNabb in goals, James Laverty, Justin Crozier, Gerard McCann, Kevin O’Boyle, Paul McCann, Kevin McShane John Carron and ace marksman, Tomas McCann have spearheaded the Cargin challenge while county players, Pat Shivers and Jimmy Gribbin are joined by a rich vein of emerging talent that includes, Sean Og O’Neill, Cahir Donnelly and Benen Kelly in the present side.

Erin’s Own have a strong bench to call upon if needed and Ciaran Close epitomised that fact when the 40 something Ciaran Close came off the bench to score a vital goal against Glenties the last day.

The Toome side and their loyal support will travel to Healey Park on Sunday relishing the tag of underdogs and underdogs do win matches and if it comes down to a dogfight going down the home straight then this scribe is certainly not writing of their chances of gaining a win that would be a massive boost to Antrim football.

The Saffron Gael speaks to Cargin’s own Kevin Doyle

By Paddy McIlwaine

Kevin Doyle wore a smile as wide as the famous Lough Neagh that sweeps down to the edge of Toome after Cargin’s extra time and penalties win over Naomh Conaill of Donegal in the first round of the Ulster club championship at Corrigan Park on Sunday past.

As the Blues of Glenties trudged off the Corrigan pitch to the relative silence of their supporters who had been magnificent throughout the game, Corrigan had turned into a sea of Green as the Cargin supporters embraced their heroes as if they had already won Ulster.

The fact that they had got through the first round in Ulster for the first time in a number of years probably added to the elation.

Kevin Doyle has given a life of service to Erin’s Own, both as a player and now the in-house man and brings a wide knowledge of the game to the management team.

I spoke to Kevin after the game and as always, found him accommodating and willing to give his thoughts on Sunday’s game, the performance of his side and how he felt about the semi-final draw against Watty Graham’s, Maghera.

Paddy: A great result on Sunday and the scenes after were wonderful. I saw you being embraced by supporters and friends after the game. Tell me how you felt through what was a very nerve racking game and how you felt at the end?

Kevin Doyle: Believe it or not Paddy I was very calm throughout the game. I always believed in the team’s ability to hold possession well, limit mistakes and wait for the right moments to score, some of our running off the ball and support play was fantastic. 

The end of the game was great, a mixture of relief and sheer elation. I was just really happy for this group of players to play close enough to their potential. When you see people after it with tears in their eyes you know it’s something special. 

Paddy: You had a long and distinguished career with Cargin and Antrim. How many championships did you win and what years were they?

Kevin Doyle: I won four championships with Cargin in 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2006. Obviously I’d have loved to have won more and probably should have. We let a few slip that we really should have won to be honest, but I was happy enough with the four back then in that era. 

Paddy: Can you remember who you played against in those Antrim finals and who beat you in the Ulster games that followed those years. What games stand out in your memory?

Kevin Doyle: we beat St John’s in 95, St Paul’s in 99 (after a replay) and again in 2000 and Lamh Dhearg after extra time in 2006. Mullaghbawn beat us in Ulster in 95 and they went on to win it. In 99 we beat Carrickmore in Casement and we lost out to All Ireland champions Crossmaglen in Clones after a great battle. They went on to win the All Ireland again that year. We didn’t get to play in Ulster in 2000 unfortunately and then in 2006 we got beat by Clontibret in a replay again in Clones after a drawn game in Casement. Conor McManus was just starting to star for them at the time but the stand out game for me was in Casement against Carrickmore. We played them off the pitch that day in a typically physical Ulster club championship game with great respect even to this day between the two sides. A young cub called Conor Gormley marked me that day. It’s fair to say he went on to have an unbelievable career with Carrickmore and Tyrone. 

Paddy: You have been involved in the Cargin management now for a number of years, firstly with Damian Cassidy and now with Ronan Devlin and Fabian Muldoon. Cargin won three Antrim championships under Damian but this year under Ronan they have taken it a step further in winning an Ulster opener. What do you think has made the difference and what has Fabian Muldoon brought to the table?

Kevin Doyle: firstly Damian Cassidy was top class and just what Cargin needed in 2018. He brought us to a different level really in every sense on and off the pitch and a different approach and style of play we have kept to this day and worked on and improved on.

Ronan has really stepped up this year. He’s probably as good a young manager as there is anywhere in Ulster at the present time and he’ll not like me saying that as he’s so modest but it’s the way I see it.

Probably the difference is hunger really and how it drives the players on after suffering a defeat to our neighbours Creggan last year. It goes without saying that really got under our skin and we wanted to right a wrong big time.

As for Fabian he’s been excellent from the very first session we had back in February. I saw right away he was a player’s man and every player loved his sessions from the start. He has an infectious enthusiasm for football and strives to get the very best out of everyone. He’s a football man through and through as you’d expect coming from Ballinderry. Very knowledgeable and a deep thinker about every aspect of the game, he’s been absolutely top class and a better fella you couldn’t meet.

Paddy: A number of young players have made the step up to a regular starting place on the Cargin team this year and have performed well. I was impressed by Cahir Donnelly and his coolness in taking a point in the first half and then tucking away his penalty. The management obviously had confidence in him too when they nominated him as a penalty taker. Tell me a wee bit about him and the other youngsters who have stepped up to claim a starting place?

Kevin Doyle: Cahir is a great lad. We were surprised to be honest how well he’s stepped up to senior football considering he’d be a minor if it was still U18. He’s done really well and pops up with vital scores and he’s a serious athlete as are all the young boys on our panel.

We didn’t even have to nominate anyone for penalties as they stepped up themselves and wanted to take them. Cahir said I’ll take one no problem and stuck it in the top corner. It’s great when you’re young players are like that and have no fear.

Sean O’Neill is another young lad but what a player he is, as good as there is about. Then you have Benen Kelly, Eunan Quinn, Conan Johnston, Tom Shivers, Odhran Molloy, Shea Laverty, Paudie McLaughlin and Sean Og Quinn. They are all great lads with a seriously good attitude and a willingness to work and learn. They will be the backbone of Cargin for years to come I’m sure. 

Paddy: Watty Graham’s will probably start the semi-final as odds on favourites but that shouldn’t worry you too much. Tell us your thoughts on Glen and what you know about them.

Kevin Doyle: Glen are a really good side and rightly so will start the game as firm favourites. They beat St Eunan’s last year, a team I rate highly and then Scotstown and probably should have beat Kilcoo so we know what we are up against.

We are no strangers to each other and I’m sure come Sunday week we will know everything there is possibly to know about each other. I’d say I’ve been to 6 or 7 of their games in the last couple of years in the Derry championship. I think it’s a matter of getting the match ups right and going from there and executing the game plan we’ll have in place. We are really looking forward to it and it’s another step to where we want to be. 

Paddy: having covered Cargin for many years and attended all those Antrim championship finals that they won, the ones they lost and those heart breaking Ulster first round defeats it was great to witness the euphoria after Sundays win over Naomh Conaill. How important was that win to a club like Cargin?

Kevin Doyle: Very important in a way of gaining a bit of respect on the Ulster stage. We were totally disregarded in the media on most fronts and I don’t think anyone bar the Saffron Gael tipped us. I guess you’re trying to inspire the younger generation also and days like Sunday always will do that. We knew Glenties would be tough, as any side that has won three out of the last five Donegal titles and been in six finals on the bounce would be.

We knew we had it in us to beat them and I was fully confident we would. You could see yourself the emotion afterwards and the amount of young and old greeting the team on the pitch was great All the players and children on the pitch too will always remember days like that and shows we are all in this together and long may that continue. 

Paddy: I was at Casement Park covering the win over Carrickmore back in 1999 and it was good to see players like Martin McAuley and Martin Logan, who played in that game out on the field after Sunday’s game. It clearly meant a lot to these players. What do you remember of that win in 1999?

Kevin Doyle: Those two men were with me a good bit of my career and I have to say looked after me too a fair bit, both on and off the pitch and remain good friends as are all the team from that era. There is always an unspoken bond with teams like that.

I’ve touched on the Carrickmore game earlier. It was just one of those tough games and something to look back on and say you know what we weren’t too bad a side.

 I always remember we came out first and were doing the warm up as Carrickmore came out and Casement erupted.

 I turned to Logie and said we will silence that lot today and we did too. We had fellas like Brian McCann playing out of his skin and he was only a young fella of 18.

 He was some player for Cargin throughout the years. Dermot McPeake, Blondie Gallagher, Ciaran O’Neill were all fantastic footballers. It was nice to see them all in the new clubhouse on Sunday past to welcome us home and show their appreciation for this Cargin side after a good day at the office. 

Paddy: Has there been a venue announced yet for the semi-final meeting with Glen Maghera, I’ve heard Omagh being mentioned. Any thought or preferences on where it should be played?

Kevin Doyle: it’s in Omagh and we are happy enough with Healy Park to be honest. 

Paddy: Finally Kevin the Saffron Gael will be there wherever the venue to carry a report and photographs and hoping to see you advance to the final. Good luck to you and the team!

McShane and McNabb the heroes as Cargin set up semi-final meeting with Glen

Ulster SF Club championship quarter-final

Erins Own Cargin 2-13 Naomh Conaill (Donegal) 2-13 aet

Cargin win 4-1 on penalties

John McNabb became the Cargin hero when his two penalty saves sent his side through to the semi-final of the Ulster Senior Club championship after 20 minutes of extra time failed to separate them and the men from Glenties in a thrilling contest at Corrigan Park on Sunday.

The Donegal champions led 0-6 to 0-3 at half time and despite a strong second half comeback by the Toome side, still led by three as the game crept into time added on. Cargin pressed hard in the closing minutes and won a ‘45’ with Michael McCann hittiing a short kick to brother Tomas and his inviting lob ended in the Naomh Conaill net as Kevin McShane rose brilliantly to fist the ball home.

Cargin’s Cahir Donnelly jumps for joy after scoring the game clinching penalty

McShane was to make another telling contribution at the end of extra time when he came up to show his forwards how it was done by firing over the levelling score to bring the game to penalties.

It was Naomh Conaill who were first to register as Charles McGuinness pointed them ahead from a 25 meter free in the 6th minute and MacCeallbhui made it 2-0 in the 12th minute of a cagey opening half as both sides pulled men behind the ball.

Cahir Donnelly got the Antrim champions on their way following a good build up but Glenties replied through Marty Boyle to restore their two point advantage by the 17th minute.

Erin’s own were playing into a fairly stiff breeze but Mick McCann closed the gap once more and Pat Shivers then saw his well struck effort come off an upright as they enjoyed a period of supremacy.

Kieran Close wheels away in celebration after scoring Cargin’s second goal

The visitors took advantage and Jeaic McCeallbhui and Leo McLoone moved them three clear before Shivers kicked his first point of the afternoon after good work from Kevin O’Boyle and Sean Og O’Neill.

The final score of the opening half fell to Naomh Conaill however with Ciaran Thompson sending a 60 meter free between the uprights to leave it 0-6 to 0-3 for the visitors at half time but the Cargin management would have been fairly satisfied, given the strength of the breeze.

Naomh Conaill increased their lead to four on the restart from a Charles McGuinness pointed free but points from Jimmy Gribbin, Pat Shivers and Tomas McCann  had it back to one by the 12th minute and the momentum was very much with the Erin’s Own at this stage.

Jeaic MacCeallibhui eased the pressure with a point for the Glenties side, their first for 16 minutes but John McNabb pointed a long range free in the 20th minute and it was back to one again as the Cargin support started to find their voice.

John McNabb gets down to save Naomh Connail’s first penalty

Just when it looked like the Toome side were getting on top they were split wide open by a fast counter attack with Odhran Doherty placing John O’Malley for a clinical finish for the Donegal champions.

It looked as good as over at this stage but Cargin quite simply refused to accept defeat as Pat Shivers and Ciaran Close, with his first touch, after being introduced for Ciaran Bradley, made it a two point game.

Ciaran Thompson edge Glenties three in front with a free in the final minute as ‘Come on you boys in blue’ rang out from the big travelling support, but Corrigan erupted as McShane and Shivers rose highest towards Tomas McCann ‘Hail Mary’ ball into a crowded goalmouth with McShane claiming the final touch to take the game to extra time.

The momentum appeared to be with the Antrim champions as two ten minute periods of extra time got underway but it was Glenties who started added time on the front foot as substitute, Stephen Molloy pointed them ahead in the first minute and when the towering Kieran Gallagher climbed to palm the ball to the net in the 5th minute it looked a long way back for Erin’s own.

Once again the character, determination and never say die attitude that had marked their challenge throughout this whole campaign,came to the fore and they might have had a goal of their own but Sean Og O’Neill’s palmed effort from a Kieran Close cross sailed over.

Back came Cargin and a blistering run from Kevin O’Boyle saw him find Mick McCann who’s tantalising delivery from near the bye-line was palmed to the net by substitute Close to leave it all square again at the halfway stage.

Naomh Connail’s Dermot Molloy sends over a point

Despite their best efforts Cargin had not been in front throughout the contest and once again Naomh Conaill took the lead from an excellent point from their brilliant midfielder Jeaic MacCeallbhui after 45 seconds with Tomas McCann tying matters again with an equally impressive effort in the second minute.

Glenties responded and Kieran Gallagher found himself on a one on one with John McNabb but fired over as the big Cargin net-minder advanced.

Both sides had emptied their bench at this stage and it was one of Cargin’s replacements, Eunan Quinn who struck a superb equaliser before McNabb had an opportunity to seal it but his ‘65’ sailed wide of the target.

The superb Jeaic MacCeallbhui looked to have clinched it for the Donegal champions with time almost up when he soloed through to fist over the bar, but Kevin McShane became his side’s saviour for the second time in the contest as his equaliser sent the game into a penalty shootout.

Naomh Connail and Cargin players rise to meet the dropping ball.

Mick McCann was calmness personified as he stepped up to fire low past Stephen McGrath with the first penalty of the allotted shoot-out and it was now the turn of John McNabb to face Donegal county player, Ciaran Thompson.

McNabb stood with his hands behind his back as Thompson ran up to take the kick but the big net-minder got down to deny his opponent with a smart save and the momentum was very much with the Antrim champions.

Tomas McCann emulated his brother, Mick’s effort with another clinical finish and McGuinness got Glenties off the mark before Pat Shivers made it three from three for Cargin.

The spotlight was now very much back on McNabb and he didn’t disappoint as he got down again to deny Stephen Molloy and when Cahir Donnelly made it four from four for Cargin with another excellent finish from the spot, Cargin were through to face Derry champions Glen in their first semi-final since 1999.

Kevin McShane punches the air in celebration after scoring the equalising goal deep in injury time

Erin’s Own, Cargin: J McNabb (0-1 free); K O’Boyle, K McShane (1-1), C Donnelly (0-1); J Crozier, J Laverty, S O’Neill (0-1), J Carron, G McCann; C Bradley, J Gribbin, (0-1) P McCann; M McCann (0-1), P Shivers (0-3), T McCann (0-2) Subs: M Kelly v P McCann (12), C Close (1-1) for C Bradley (51), B Kelly for G McCann (56), E Quinn (0-1) for M Kelly (62), R Gribbin for J Crozier (71), R Devlin for S O’Neill (77),

Yellow card: S O’Neill (22)

Naomh Conaill: S McGrath; K McGettigan (0-1), AJ Gallagher, J Campbell; E O’Donnell, M Boyle, E Wade; C Thompson (0-2 frees), J Mac Ceallbhuí (0-5); K McGill, O Doherty, E Doherty; J O’Malley (1-0), C McGuinness (0-2 frees), L McLoone (0-1) Subs: U Doherty for M Boyle (50), D Molloy (0-1) for J O’Malley (56), K Gallagher (1-1) for O Doherty (61), O Doherty for L McLoone (70), D Gildea for O DOherty (71), L McLoone for E Waide (77)

Black cards: K McGill (50-60), C McGuinness (62-72)

Referee: K Faloon (Armagh)

Blend of youth and experience can see Cargin advance

Ulster Club SFC quarter-final

Erin’s Own Cargin v Naomh Conaill (Donegal)

Corrigan Park Sunday ( 1.30pm)

Erin’s Own Cargin face Donegal champions, Naomh Conaill Donegal at Corrigan this Sunday as they attempt to advance to the next round of the Ulster SFC Club tournament for the first time in a number of years.

The Toome club collected their 11th Antrim championship title this year and their fourth in five years when they defeated St. Mary’s Aghagallon in the final at Corrigan Park. It took extra time to separate the finalists with Cargin finally running out 1-18 to 3-9 winners.

It also took extra time in their semi-final as Erin’s Own avenged last year’s semi-final defeat to neighbours, Kickham’s, Creggan so the Toome men have endured a couple of challenging encounters in the build up to Sunday’s meeting with Naomh Conaill.

Naomh Conaill have a good recent record in the Donegal championship. The Glenties side have contested the last six Tir Conaill deciders, winning the championship in 2019, 2020 and again in 2022.

In 2019 they avenged a final loss to Gaoth Dobhar the previous year, that Gaoth Dobhar side went on to beat Cargin in the opening round of Ulster in 2018 before claiming the Ulster title.

It took penalties to decide Glenties and Kilcar after extra time had failed to separate them with Naomh Conaill edging it and this year they avenged a 2021 final defeat to St. Eunan’s. Leterkenny to emerge as Donegal champions.

Ciaran Thompson was the hero for Naomh Conaill as his late free gave the Glenties a one-point victory over holders St Eunan’s in the Donegal SFC final at Ballybofey.

However, the turning point of the game was a controversial red card issued to St Eunan’s attacker Shane O’Donnell just six minutes before the break.

The 2021 champions were leading 1-3 to 0-4 at the break thanks to Eoin McGeehin’s goal, but they suffered a hammer blow when Donegal ace O’Donnell was dismissed for his part in a melee before the interval.

Rory Kavanagh’s men failed to score for the opening 10 minutes of the game, but McGeehin’s goal was their first score after Brendan McDyer and Mac Ceallabhuí had given Glenties the early lead.

The holders kept their noses in front for the remainder of a keenly-contested half, but Naomh Conaill went on to press home their numerical advantage in the second half.

A well-taken goal from Charlie McGuinness was cancelled out when St Eunan’s midfielder Kevin Kealy found the net, 10 minutes from time.

Thompson’s free on 58 minutes would prove to be the final score of the contest as St Eunan’s failed to break down a resolute Glenties defence in the closing minutes as Martin Regan’s men regained the Dr Maguire Cup.

What of Cargin?

In previous years the turnaround for the Antrim champions was minimal but this year Cargin have had five weeks to prepare from the Antrim final and sounds coming out of the home camp suggests they are in good shape going into Sunday’s Ulster opener.

Ronan Devlin made the step up from coach to manager at the start of the 2022 season following the resignation of Damian Cassidy who he had worked alongside for the past five years and the transition has been relatively smooth.

His panel was well known to him and without making wholesale changes he has introduced a number of young players to the side but is likely to look to his trusted and vastly experienced players as he attempts to gain his first Ulster win.

Cargin record in the competition has been poor since beating Carrickmore at Casement back in 1999 and they have failed to get past the first round since with Killyclougher back in 2018 and Gweedore in 2019 being their most recent conquerors and there was no Ulster in 2020 owing to Covid.

There is a quiet confidence within the camp that this could be their year however and they certainly have the players to push Naomh Conaill all the way. John McNabb and Kevin O’Boyle were selected on the recent Devenish All Stars side and both have been playing out of their skins this season.

Michael McCann and his brother Tomas came up with important scores in the semi-final and finals respectively while Justin Crozier, James Laverty, John Carron, James Laverty, Gerard McCann, Paul McCann and Kevin McShane bring a wealth of experience to the table.

The emerging talents of Matthew Gribbin, Ciaran Bradley, Pat Shivers, Sean O’Neill, Ronan Gribbin and Cathair Donnelly have added pace and momentum to the Cargin side and it makes for a solid unit.

Manager Devlin will have no doubt looked at the three goals his side conceded against Aghagallon in the Antrim final and will be keen that his defence is much tighter against the men from Tir Conaill but if Cargin can put their A game together then they can progress to the Ulster semi-final.

Michael McCann speaks to the Saffron Gael

Following their fourth SFC success in five years and with an Ulster Championship opener against Glenties on the horizon next month, Cargin’s Michael McCann speaks to the Saffron Gael and reflects on his side’s season to date.

Michael McCann has seen it all in a long successful career, both in Saffron and the green and white of Cargin. McCann suffered disappointment in 2021 when Cargin lost to neighbours Creggan in the Championship final but all is well that ends well.

Cargin avenged that defeat to their fiercest rivals in this year’s semi-final at Dunsilly and the former All Star replacement and Railway cup medalist collected his fourth SFC medal in five years with a win over Aghagallon in the final at Corrigan Park on the 9th October.

 After enduring a long spell on the side-lines this year through injury, ‘Mick’ celebrated success with his colleagues on the wind lashed Corrigan sod to collect his 7th medal in total.

“To be honest I never thought it was possible for me. I suffered for most of the year with a lingering groin problem”.

After extensive treatment McCann was able to take his place in the quarter-final, semi-final and final and his second half goal against Aghagallon proved the turning point in a final where they trailed for long periods to Naomh Muire.

“I am grateful to my wife Seainin, my boys, Charley, Tom, and Max as well as Ronan (Devlin), Fabian (Muldoon) and Dougal’ for the patience they have shown”.

“I spent much of the summer on the injury list, and was probably not easy to live with and despite my exertions and the class treatment I received I was only able to resume training in the last week of August in anticipation of a return in the championship”.

“I managed to start in the quarter final game against Lamh Dhearg and was involved in what turned out to be a frantic semi-final against Creggan and that spell of extra time left a mark”.

“The final against Aghagallon proved to be another lengthy affair and when we concluded the opening period five points in arrears we looked in trouble”

“I was fortunate to have witnessed the character of our under-15 team in their championship success a few weeks previously when they came from thirteen point behind at half time to win by a point. If inspiration was required those boys provided it”

“We needed a good start to the second half but when St Mary’s struck first for their third goal to take an eight point lead we looked in more trouble.

In the event our lads rallied to the cause as we dug deep and went a point ahead but an Aghagallon late pointed free sent the game to extra time”

“Having just managed to find the net a few minutes before the end of normal time I felt better but Aghagallon took the lead again but we finished strongly and points from Tomas (McCann), Pat Shivers, Benen Kelly, Sean O’ Neill, and captain fantastic James Laverty saw us claim our 11th senior title”.

“Although this was my 7th title I have no hesitation in saying this one will go up there as the best. I have been asked about retirement but that is not on my mind at present. My oldest son Charley, who gained his first piece of silverware himself this year, is adamant I should play on”.

“In the meantime we look forward to the visit of Donegal representatives Glenties in a few weeks-time as we dip out toes into the Ulster club championship”