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Cargin man won't play for Antrim while Frank Dawson remains in charge of Saffron footballers

Scullion issues Antrim ultimatum

By David Mohan

CARGIN’S Tony Scullion says he does not intend to play under Antrim manager Frank Dawson again following a dispute prior to Sunday’s defeat in Monaghan.

Scullion and Tomás McCann were told by Dawson not to travel to meet up with the rest of the squad after they informed him of their intention to attend a one year anniversary Mass for a deceased relative. They planned to drive to meet the rest of the panel in the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan, rather than travelling on the team bus.

An attempt at an eleventh hour solution failed as Antrim went on to lose to Monaghan as well as their Division Three status on another depressing day for Antrim fans.

Rumours immediately began to surface that a meeting of the Antrim Management Committee taking place on Tuesday night may have paved the way for a reconciliation between the Cargin duo and the management, but the veteran wing-back said that no attempt has been made to do so.

“No, not a chance,” he said, when asked on Wednesday if anyone from the county committee or management team had been in contact.

“I have heard nothing from anyone since Sunday.”

Scullion then made his position quite clear on whether he will return to the panel for Antrim’s Ulster Championship clash with Monaghan.

“I haven’t pulled out. I have said that I have left it in the County Board’s hands  – more or less saying that if Dawson goes, I’ll go back, but there is no chance of that happening.

“I will say what I said earlier in the week, my future is in the hands of the County Board but what happened was totally wrong. It may not sound a big deal but it’s a matter of principle. How do you tell somebody not to go to chapel?”

While Dawson refused to allow the Cargin pair to meet up with the squad because they didn’t travel with the rest of the team, reports emerged that some other players were given the go-ahead to travel by car. Scullion confirmed was the case and said: “That’s exactly what happened. I think that’s why Frank Dawson has said nothing – how can he answer that?

“There is double standards and that has always been the case since I have been playing with the county for ten years.

“Frank Dawson has just picked a battle at the wrong time and that’s all there is

to it.”

Scullion denies there had been a  previous rift with the Saffrons’ boss and said he was disappointed with how things have materialied.

“No, I have never had a problem with him,” he added.

“Obviously he had had one with me but never expressed it. I have been there nine or ten years with the county but it just shows you that you’re only a number. That’s the way it goes, you can do nothing about it.”

It now seems highly unlikely that Scullion or his brother-in-law, Tomás McCann, will return to county action this year.

Frank Dawson responded to the fall-out from Scullion ans McCann’s omission late on Wednesday evening.

“I am not going to keep that debate going publicly, that doesn’t do our squad or the county any favours,” said the Antrim manager.

“From my point of view the two lads and the management team are aware of exactly what transpired from late Saturday night until Sunday morning.

“However that is all history now and we move forward. We have drawn a line under the League campaign now, good performances and bad, the League is behind us and we are looking forward.”

Dawson also revealed that the Championship squad to face Monaghan at Casement Park on June 9 would be finalised and published later next week.

“We are now reviewing not just the league but the McKenna Cup as well,” said Dawson.

“Every player in our squad got serious game time during both competitions, and based on what we have seen we are now preparing a squad for the Championship.

“There is absolutely no door closed to anyone, we will draw together a squad which we believe can best represent Antrim and make an impact on the Championship. That is our focus and our priority.”

Antrim PRO Brendan Mulgrew confirmed a meeting of the management committee took place on Tuesday evening, and that no player had left the panel.

“We chatted about the whole thing because that’s our job as the county board,” said Mulgrew.

“There’s no dramatic outcome, there’s nobody leaving at the manager’s behest.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve seen the end of any players at all, indeed the door is open to any players who featured in the earlier part of the league.

“A line has been drawn totally under the Division 3 campaign, with its disappointing end and everything else, and we’re now looking forward to Championship.”

Another member of the clan  who looks certain to be unavailable for the Monaghan game is Michael McCann – the midfielder confirming that his new business venture, METX Fitness at Shivers Business Park in Toome, is taking up too much of his time to fully commit to the county cause.

“At the minute I’m probably too busy with the new gym,” he told the Andersonstown News on Wednesday.

“I’m up to my eyes at the minute. The decision isn’t results based or anything else, it’s just that with a new business I have far too much going on.”


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