MICHAEL McCann’s fitness for Antrim’s July 4 Ulster Championship meeting with Armagh will be a last-minute decision according to Antrim assistant manager Stephen Quinn.
The Cargin player who has returned to action for the county in his mid-30s, but who has been an inspirational player as the Saffrons gained promotion, is currently carrying a calf muscle injury.
Assistant manager Quinn said that along with McCann there are a number of players who are carrying injuries of various levels of seriousness.
Ciaran Bradley is unlikely to play any part in the Ulster Championship because of an ankle injury. Pat Shivers is struggling with a back problem. Mark Sweeney has an ankle injury.
While Bradley probably won’t start, Shivers and Sweeney should be available. McCann will be allowed as much time as possible to recover from the calf injury in order to be ready for their game against Armagh.
“You want to have everyone involved. Mick especially was going really well until he picked up his injury. It will be good to have them back. The same with all those players. You would like to have them all back. We will see over the next few weeks.”
The plan over the next few weeks is to continue the work that they have been doing.
“We know Armagh is going to be a massive test in three weeks. We will take a look at Armagh and see how they are playing. They have been looking very good in Division One. We will be planning for them.”
The Antrim management, which includes Enda McGinley as manager assisted by Stephen Quinn, Stephen O’Neill and Sean Kelly, have stated that the league was their priority this year and they wanted to make sure to gain promotion to Division Three.
They achieved that aim with their three wins in the third tier, and their play-off victory against Waterford last weekend.
The promotion was a long time coming, as the Saffrons had battled to get out of the division for the past three years. Quinn said he wasn’t sure what the difference was this time.
“To be fair to the lads they worked extremely hard during the lockdown period. They were in contact with Brendan Murphy, the strength and conditioning co-ordinator, the whole time. He had programmes for them all. I think that really stood to them. There was a short build up into the league but they came back in really good shape.
“I think that time having those months, in February and March, allowed them to do gym work and build themselves up more. The credit has to go to them. They felt that they were good enough to get out of Division Four.
“They felt that they wanted to put that right.”
Part of the reason why they achieved their goal of promotion was that the Antrim management were able to work fast. They didn’t try to bring in any new developments to game-plans, nor did they do a lot of tinkering with the team.
“We just picked the teams that we thought could get the results.
“There wasn’t an opportunity to give players time that they deserved. That is just the way that the season had went. But hopefully in the next few weeks we can get a few in-house games played amongst ourselves, and we can get a challenge game, and get a look at everyone else and see what they are bringing.
“Because we had three games in four weeks we had to really get a system of players and players into it. Those who showed the form got into the team.
“But in the lead up to the Armagh game there will be chances for other players.”