Off the Fencs

ACCORDING to Off The Fence this week, it's time to scrap the Dr McKenna Cup. It's time for Danny Hughes to wise up (not my words). It's time for gay sports people to keep their sexuality to themselves. And it's time for Antrim officialdom to get proper Championship draws in place.

So, 'Tommy from Killyleagh' kicks the moaning off this week and says the McKenna Cup should be dispensed with. "I think the McKenna Cup should be scrapped," says 'Tommy'. "The only team that take it seriously is Tyrone. Last week, there were only two games on and the rest had to wait to see if they qualified or not.

I think January should be a complete shutdown month."

* 'CATHAL' was on the warpath too and took a swipe at the Ulster Council for playing McKenna Cup matches in terrible weather conditions. "I'm ringing to express my contempt and disgust at the Ulster Council for insisting that last Wednesday's two games [Down v UUJ and Armagh v St Mary's] should be played. They were forced to call off four of the six games earlier in the day. "They knew what the forecast was for that evening and to insist on those two games being played in such appalling conditions was totally unacceptable. So much for player welfare! "It's time the GPA took a stand.

I thought a lesson had been learned after last year's National League game between Armagh and Down at The Athletic Grounds which was played in totally unacceptable conditions. There is no thought for player welfare."

* THE Ulster Council's decision to move Tyrone's match with Antrim to Clones also caused a stir. 'O Hughes' simply asked the question: "Why could the McKenna Cup match between Tyrone v Antrim not have been played at another ground in Tyrone when Omagh was unplayable?"

* 'TYRONE Gael' was slightly more scathing. He/she emailed: "On hearing the Ulster Council had moved the game from Omagh to Clones on Sunday, two well-known films came to mind - Dumb and Dumber and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. "I know games have to be played before the start of the National League but to ask people to travel in treacherous conditions is beyond belief. "Where were the Ulster Council's concerns for the health and safety of those travelling to Clones never mind the players? For those at the head table of Ulster Football get a grip and show some common sense."

Clones was a strange choice but in fairness to clubs they're reluctant to have their pitches ruined so early in the season. Clones, we can only assume, was a case of any port in a storm.

* 'FEMALE Caller' was miffed at Valerie Mulcahy's decision to publicly announce that she's gay.

Now, before you get the wrong idea, our caller is not homophobic. She is miffed because she thinks the highly decorated Cork camogie player is seeking attention. "I just read about Valerie Mulcahy's decision to 'come out'. I've always had the greatest respect for Valerie with her All-Ireland wins and I thought she was amazing. Now, any respect I have for Valerie, as a person, has just gone out the window. Who cares who's gay? "Half the world is full of racism. There are people dying, people unemployed. Seriously! Do people go into the paper to say: 'I'm not gay'. "For goodness sake, it doesn't matter. Why do these people have to come out for attention - to get onto the television and to get into newspapers? "You're gay or you're not gay.

It doesn't really matter. Valerie Mulcahy being gay makes no difference to me."

When you say you have no respect for Valerie Mulcahy shows a certain intolerance on your behalf. You're wrong to ridicule a person for 'coming out' on the basis that she's doing it merely for attention. You don't know Mulcahy's reasons for publicly announcing she is gay. Mulcahy's 'coming out' might contribute in some small way to reducing prejudice in our society.

* OUR Friday GAA columnist Danny Hughes ruffled a few feathers in last week's column when he mentioned that cheating and gamesmanship are part and parcel of sport.

He used the example of Thierry Henry's treacherous handball during France's World Cup play-off tie with the Republic of Ireland and suggested "nobody talks about that anymore". 'The Tinkerman' was none too pleased by Danny's statement. "I've enjoyed most of Danny Hughes' articles but after reading his piece on GAA and amateurism I felt compelled to write in. "Aside from the first few paragraphs describing his respect and admiration for Joe Brolly, Danny goes onto say that 'gamesmanship and cheating go hand in hand in sport'... He backs this point up with the Thierry Henry handball example as some sort of justification. "Really?" 'The Tinkerman' says. "Danny obviously wasn't on social media when Thierry Henry retired recently with that handball widely talked about - and not just from the Irish in Twittersphere. "Cheating should be deplored in all sports, and whilst golf has many overly stringent rules, many sports could learn a thing or two from their gamesmanship etiquette and stance on cheating, with players often calling penalties on themselves (Ryder Cup aside)." 'The Tinkerman' also takes issue with Danny's discussion surrounding payments to coaches and managers. "As for the payment of coaches and managers I'm afraid I think Danny is talking absolute rubbish and I'm largely in Brolly's camp (God forbid). "I miss the days of having a coach from within the club, there was something special about the insular set-up, motivation of the manager/ coach stemmed from parochial pride rather than the contents of the weekly brown envelope. "No Danny, amateurism isn't all black and white but for the vast majority of managers, as a lyrical genius Jessie J once said: 'It's all about the money.'" When readers start quoting Jessie J in a column like Off The Fence, I lose respect for them entirely.

* 'MOURNEMAN' also emailed to complain about Danny's Thierry Henry comment. "Danny Hughes made a poor call when he stated in his column this week that no-one talked about Thierry Henry's handball against the Republic of Ireland in the 2010 World Cup play-off anymore," writes 'Mourneman'. "I'm pretty sure people have said a lot recently as he retired last month and he featured prominently at the Ballon D'or presentations this week handing out Ronaldo his prize, so a lot of people would have been talking about Henry's legacy. "If you cheat to the degree that Henry cheated and the furore that it created he's going to get slated.

He was a great player and won all the major prizes in the game but the gamesmanship he showed in that night in November 2009 in Paris will always stick in people's minds."

Let me put it on record here:

I like Danny. I like him a lot. But I can't agree with his Thierry Henry argument because I (and it's all about me here), I missed out on a trip to the 2010 World Cup finals with the Republic of Ireland over what happened in Paris. There's not a day goes by I don't think about Thierry Henry's handball and what

I missed out on.

* AND finally, 'Concerned Gael' was curious to know how so-called seeded teams and big-hitters St Gall's and Cargin ended up being drawn together in the first round of the Antrim championship. "I would just like to comment on the Antrim club championship draw. It is dubious the draws that were seeded were constitutional because there was no consultation with the club. "Secondly, they didn't want a weaker team to get to the county final in hurling so they put the four seeded clubs straight into the semi-finals so that they would get good gates in the hurling. "And in the football we had the fiasco of the seeded teams being drawn together in the first match.

A complete joke."

There is an uneasy truce between Antrim and I (well, I think there is), as I recently left Creggan unscathed. So I can't be drawn here. Plus Jim Murray would beat me in a fight. On page 57 of today's edition, the Antrim chairman explains all.


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