Joe McDonagh Cup dates and venues eventually confirmed
MORE details on the dates and venues of the Joe McDonagh Cup have finally emerged with the opening games taking place on Saturday May 11 featuring Antrim’s home tie with Kerry in Dunloy.
Details on the exact dates and times were scant up until this week despite the draw being made back in October.
Weekends of May 11/12, May 18/19, May 25/26, June 1/2 and June 8/9 were pencilled in with the final scheduled for June 30.
Westmeath boss Joe Quaid claimed that he only got confirmation of his side’s dates, times and venues yesterday.
The second-tier hurling championship was launched last year, with a pathway to the All-Ireland SHC afforded to the two finalists.
It was arguably the GAA’s best-kept secret in 2018 with limited promotion of the inaugural competition and no TV coverage from the association’s broadcast partners.
Antrim’s two home games – against Kerry and Westmeath (Saturday June 8) – will be played in Dunloy, while they have back-to-back McDonagh Cup games away to Laois (Saturday May 18) and Offaly (Saturday June 1).
A long-time advocate of promoting the lower hurling tiers, Westmeath boss Joe Quaid criticised the GAA.
Speaking to The Irish News last month, the Limerick native said: “It's huge disrespect to that man's name – a former President of the Association who was so forward thinking.
“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.”
Due to another McDonagh Cup match taking place in Leinster, Antrim’s last home game against Kerry last year didn’t have a confirmed throw-in time until 30 minutes before the game started.
Joe McDonagh Cup fixtures: Saturday May 18: Antrim v Kerry (Dunloy, 5pm), Offaly v Laois (Tullamore, 5pm); Saturday May 18: Laois v Antrim (Portlaoise, 3pm), Westmeath v Offaly (Mullingar, 3pm); Saturday May 25: Westmeath v Kerry (Mullingar, 3pm); Saturday June 1: Offaly v Antrim (Tullamore, 3pm); Saturday June 8: Kerry v Laois (Tralee, 3pm); Antrim v Westmeath (Dunloy, 3pm); Kerry v Offaly (Tralee, 3pm), Laois v Westmeath (Portlaoise, 3pm).