By Niall Gartland
ANTRIM assistant manager Terry McCrudden makes no bones about their aspirations for their upcoming Division Three campaign.
While the Saffrons languished in Division Four for years before finally achieving promotion under the management team spearheaded by Enda McGinley, McCrudden says that they should be aiming for more than just mere consolidation in the third tier.
Last season they finished a respectable fourth in Division Three, and while it actually looks a more stacked field than last season, McCrudden, who has been enlisted by new boss Andy McEntee, says there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be pushing for promotion to Division Two.
“Why get involved otherwise? That’s what we’re aiming for, but we’re acutely aware every game is going to be an absolute battle. Nothing’s ever easy in terms of promotion and it’ll be the same this year. We’ve three home games and four away and it’s a tough, tough league with a lot of Ulster teams and Westmeath who won the Tailteann Cup.” This is McCrudden’s second time involved with the Antrim senior intercounty set-up (he was involved back in the early 2000s), and he’s formed a very positive impression of the captain of the ship, former Meath boss Andy McEntee.
“Andy contacted me, he picked up my name from a couple of different people. He was looking someone with a good knowledge of Antrim. He sets very high standards but he’s also prepared to put in a lot of hard work himself.
“He’s driving up to Antrim training from Dunboyne, he’s putting in a lot of hard work, and his thoughts and ideas on things are similar to my own. There’s a big backroom team as well, but that’s what you’d expect at county level these days.”
McCrudden hails from the Lamh Dhearg club and lined out for Antrim for almost a decade from 1992 to 1999, a fairly forgettable period for the county. His playing days are long over but he says it’s great to be involved in his present capacity.
“We didn’t have too many good days to be honest, but it’s always an honour to represent your county. It’s nice to be back involved at management level, sometimes it gives things a bit of a lift when there’s a wee bit of a regime change albeit there’s still some backroom members who were involved under Enda McGinley, and it’s good to have that continuity as well.
“You’re going into the unknown but there’s a bit of excitement as well. From what I’ve seen in the playing group, they all seem exceptionally committed.”