Promotion of lower hurling leagues is abysmal: Westmeath hurling boss Joe Quaid

Westmeath manager Joe Quaid says the GAA must do more to help the lesser counties

WESTMEATH hurling manager Joe Quaid has criticised the GAA for their continued neglect of the lower NHL divisions and said the lack of promotion of the Joe McDonagh Cup was an insult to the late GAA President.

After watching last weekend's The Sunday Game, Quaid tweeted: “Not even a mention of all the other games that went ahead in the rest of the divisions in the hurling league today. Elitist coverage. Games promotion me arse.”

Westmeath face Kerry in the Division 2A final in Ennis this weekend with the winners going up to Division 1B next season.

Referring to RTE's flagship highlights programme, Quaid said: “They spent more time talking about matches that were called off than the matches that actually went ahead. So where are we at when you're talking about that kind of promotion?

“All the football Leagues right down to Division Four were shown. All their League finals will be played in Croke Park and we got notification this week that our final has to be finished on the day. What's the rush, I ask myself, when they've re-fixed round five in Division One? It's ‘get it out of the way quickly'…”

Quaid, a Limerick native, praised TG4's coverage of GAA but said it was up to the GAA to insist to its broadcast partners that they show a better spread of games.

“They can stipulate what's covered. To be fair, only for TG4 we wouldn't see hurling at all. The amount of coverage they give it is phenomenal.

“I guarantee you there will be a big press day for the League final in Division One. I've never been contacted in regards to our final this Sunday. I've been contacted by a couple of reporters but there is no promotion for this [Division 2A] final.”

Last year, the inaugural Joe McDonagh Cup didn't see any broadcast appearances and, for many, hurling enthusiasts the second tier competition remains one of the Association's best-kept secrets.

“It's huge disrespect to that man's name – a former President of the Association who was so forward thinking,” said Quaid.

“They don't even show the final. And because they'll probably fix a football game the same day as the Joe McDonagh final they'll show the football instead.”

“And yet, there are enough channels to show these games – you've Sky, you've TG4, TV3, RTE.

“We've all watched club matches at a lower level on TG4 so I'm sure people would watch matches from the lower [national league] divisions in hurling and would enjoy them. And going around the country last year some of the Joe McDonagh matches were cracking matches.”

Quaid also said there was a need to expand the two top divisions to help raise the profile and the standards in places such at Westmeath, Antrim and Kerry and pointed to Carlow's precarious position in Division 1B after fighting tooth and nail to win promotion to the top flight last season.

“Carlow were a puck of a ball away from being in a quarter-final, but if they're beaten against Offaly this weekend they're back down in Division 2A. All the good work they've done, they could be back down again. What's wrong with adding more teams to Division One as opposed to reducing it?”

Westmeath have won their five games in Division 2A and finished two points better off than Kerry as they pair look forward to Sunday's showdown.

“Our main target was to to get to the final this year,” said Quaid.

“We've got there without playing superbly well which, believe me, I would take over playing extremely well and not winning.

“The prize is playing Division One hurling next year. That's a massive prize. It's a straight shoot-out to Division One.”

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