One of Antrim's finest hurlers
The stars of Gaelic games in Ulster are not confined solely to football. The province has also produced many fine exponents of the sport of hurling. Antrim’s Terence McNaughton burst on to the local hurling scene as a 16 year old in 1981, and played a crucial part in helping his club Ruairí Óg, Cushendall, to win its first county hurling title. Cushendall then took the Ulster club title with a 7-19 to 3-5 win over Portaferry.
While the ambition of winning the All-Ireland title was thwarted by Mount Sion in the semi final, rave reviews established McNaughton as a bright prospect. By the time he had reached his mid-20s, he was a veteran of the Ulster and All-Ireland Championship series, as well as the inter-provincial Railway Cup competition.
‘Terence could play anywhere on the team,’ recalls Sean McGuinness, his manager in Antrim and Ulster, ‘The one thing you were guaranteed with him was 100 per cent commitment. Which ever team he played for he would give his all.’
Along the way, McNaughton seems to have played in every outfield position from fullback to left corner forward. No one could ever question his commitment or contribution. He just wanted to be out there playing.
‘Terence has always been the player for the big occasion. When he was playing, it lifted everybody around him,’ continues McGuinness, ‘He’d get a grip of the ball and … race out through a bunch of players. And with that bald head you couldn’t but fail to notice him. He really did a lot to inspire teams.’
McNaughton’s inspiration came to fruition in 1989 when, against the odds, Antrim scored a famous 4-15 to 1-15 win over Offaly in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final. However, Tipperary proved too good in the final, winning by a massive 18 points, 4-24 to 3-9.
McNaughton retired from club hurling in 2000 after a glittering playing career during which he collected an All Star award, eight Antrim senior championships and 18 Ulster medals for his beloved Cushendall and Antrim.
© Padraig Coyle 2004