There is more to Antrim than Neil McManus: Westmeath boss Joe Quaid
WESTMEATH hurling boss Joe Quaid says his players would be foolish to regard Antrim as a one-man team following Neil McManus’s gargantuan performance in their win over Offaly last week – while the Limerick native aimed another broadside at the GAA for its poor promotion of the Joe McDonagh Cup.
Despite the GAA ‘streaming’ last week’s make-or-break round three game between Offaly and Antrim ‘live’ on its website and The Sunday Game showing brief highlights on their afternoon programme, Quaid is still miffed by how the lower tier Championship is being treated.
Quaid, whose Westmeath side face Antrim in Dunloy on Saturday (3pm) that will go some way to determining who qualifies for the June 30 McDonagh final, believes the demise of Offaly – perceived as one of hurling’s fallen giants – was the only reason the Tullamore clash occupied a bit of air-time prior to RTE’s hurling ‘live’ double-header last Sunday.
“To be fair, if Antrim had beaten Kerry or beaten us I don’t think there would be anything on about it,” said Quiad.
“The fact that it was Offaly and Michael Duignan (former Offaly hurler) was a panellist I think that’s why it was on. It’s a disgrace. We’ve matches on at 3 o’clock every Saturday. They’re not clashing with any other matches. They should be shown."
BBC NI screened brief on-line highlights of Antrim's opening McDonagh Cup win over Kerry in Dunloy but showed no footage of their subsequent games against Laois or Offaly, both of which were played in Portlaoise and Tullamore, respectively.
Quaid added: “Now, you look at the attendances at the McDonagh matches – they’re not massive – but the only way you generate interest in it and keeping fellas from going to America is for the GAA to promote the games more.
“The likes of Joey Boyle (Westmeath), Neil McManus (Antrim) and Shane Conway (Kerry) should be household names – outside of Division One you ask any Tipp, Limerick, Cork supporter who these guys are they don’t really know.”
While acknowledging the ‘live’ streaming of Offaly-Antrim on ‘GAA Now’ – a result that puts Antrim in the frame for a place in this season’s McDonagh final and increases Offaly’s chances of dropping down another Championship tier in 2020 – Quaid insisted there is still a preoccupation with the big hurling counties.
“Everything is an improvement but I think they could do a lot more,” said the Limerick native, who was Kildare manager last season when Antrim defeated them in a McDonagh/Ring relegation play-off match.
“Carlow were a success story getting up into Division One last year, but they’re not going to get one of their matches shown on ‘live’ TV. The previous week they didn’t even give out the McDonagh results on The Sunday Game.”
Quaid attended last Saturday’s pulsating encounter in Tullamore and was hugely impressed with Antrim’s display, especially when they lost full-back Martin Burke to a red card after just nine minutes.
“Antrim were playing to a plan and were far more coherent. They only won by two points but, to me, it was a two-point hammering of Offaly. They were really in command the whole match; they never looked in trouble and they’d a great bench as well. James McNaughton was brilliant. I don’t know why he wasn’t starting because he was their main player during the League.”
Antrim’s attack was on fire last weekend with Keelan Molloy and Nigel Elliott among the goals and while McManus was the most influential player on the field, Quaid knows the Ulstermen present dangers in other areas of the field.
“McManus is the focal point - no-one is doubting the hurler he is, but he doesn’t win these matches on his own, he doesn’t win every ball.
“You need your marquee players but you need other lads to step up. I watched their game against Offaly last week and I thought Nigel Elliott was just superb, he terrorised the Offaly defence. They’re a serious outfit, got serious forwards. Neil maybe takes the plaudits but we won’t just be concentrating on him at the weekend.”