By Michael McMullan
CREGGAN manager Gerard McNulty is “happy enough” with his side’s progress with a month to go until their opener against St Gall’s.
The 2021 champions are in a group with the former All-Ireland winners and Dunloy for the robin part of the race for the McNamee Cup.
While they were hit by a spate of injuries in mid-season, none are long-term and McNulty has given county star Ruairi McCann a break to recharge the body and mind after Antrim’s prolonged season.
“Our first session was Valentines Day,” McNulty said of the delayed start. “We took a long break because we thought last year went on too long and there wasn’t a break over the last two or three years.”
The focus was to finish in the top six, free of any relegation concerns, after the league split. Five away wins on the bounce helped with that and it left Creggan able to pick and choose their games and how they wanted to play.
Kevin Small missed Antrim’s season and is back out on the pitch running with county hurler Conor McCann pushing hard with his rehab on the way back from an ACL injury.
“Everyone is coming back at the right time,” McNulty who leads a management team that includes his brother Thomas, Peter McCollum and current Derry selector Enda Muldoon who will hook up when the Oakleafers’ season comes to a close.
There have been no retirements with former Antrim player Dermot McCann enjoying a new lease of life.
“With the injuries Dermot got back in and he is going to be hard to shift now,” McNulty said.
“He has been playing very well and we have also been able to bring young players through.
“They have all been getting first team football. It is something we pride ourselves on, that players are coming along and getting better.
“We have found out that guys can play in different positions because we have been so short. At one time we only had five subs which is unheard of for Creggan because they have a big squad.”
Creggan host St Gall’s on Sunday, July 29 as the championship kicks into action before a bye in round two and finishing an away game with Dunloy.
“We are getting miles in the legs and stepping it up at the minute,” McNulty said of their end of league preparation.
“We wanted to finish in the top six and do a preseason to peak for the championship, that’s the plan anyway.”