At a time when county team managers in both football and hurling are leaving their posts with unprecedented frequency, Antrim is raising the bar on stability, confidence and spirit.
No sooner had Enda McGinley and Stephen O’Neill vacated their managerial positions on the county football team than ex-Meath boss Andy McEntee was ushered into the hot seat.
And even before speculation arose about hurling manager Darren Gleeson’s future, the district board acted wisely to secure his signature on another two-year contract with an option for a third.
It’s no coincidence that given this urgency and positivity, players from both codes in Saffron County are already excited about the 2023 campaign.
After the Hurlers won the coveted Joe McDonagh Cup in 2020 and again this year and secured their spot in next year’s Leinster Championship Round-Robin series, skipper Eoghan Campbell makes it clear why all systems are failing again.
“Since Darren arrived towards the end of 2019, Antrim Hurling has reached a certain level of professionalism,” Campbell said.
“From a strength and conditioning perspective, we have Brendan Murphy with us. It was there before but you almost got to pick and choose when you left.
“Now there are individualized sessions, rehab sessions, recovery sessions and all are tailored to the needs of the players. Everyone bought into the setup, that’s for sure.”
With another season in Division One of the Allianz League, Antrim will be pitting his skills against some of the elite teams, something Manager Gleeson is particularly excited about.
“A team can only improve if you play against high-quality opponents. The players learned as we progressed and it paid off for them with two trophies in three years,” Gleeson said.
New football manager McEntee has already dived into the Senior County Championship, with some particularly attractive games on the horizon. Antrim will be taking part in Division 3 of the league next year and McEntee is keen for his team to progress towards promotion.
“I have been very impressed with the facilities in Antrim and also with the County Board’s attitude to what they are trying to achieve. Being very fashionable now, the Casement Park project offers an exciting future,” said McEntee.
“I think Enda McGinley and Stephen O’Neill have done a lot in terms of the football team and now there’s a certain level of expectation for the future.”
Meanwhile, former Tyrone All-Ireland winner Peter Canavan and current Derry captain Chrissy McKaigue, who guided the team to the All-Ireland semi-finals this year, will be among the speakers at a forum next week regarding
Redevelopment of Casement Park.
The event will be held at the Wolf and Whistle in Andersonstown and will also feature two global authorities on sports stadiums, Professor Tony Stephens and Julian Jenkins, both from Wales.
Titled “Realising the Vision and Delivering the Dream,” the forum is expected to focus on the sporting, social and economic benefits that the redesigned stadium will bring.
It is understood that concerted action will be taken during the renovation of the stadium to ensure GAA players and supporters, local residents, cultural institutions and business leaders are kept informed of developments.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/gaa/antrim/antrim-given-welcome-boost-as-hurling-boss-darren-gleeson-commits-his-future-to-saffrons-41890789.html Antrim given welcome boost as hurling boss Darren Gleeson commits his future to Saffrons