North should never be a no-go zone for southern teams: Antrim boss Lenny Harbinson
Allianz National Football League Division Four: Antrim 2-14 Waterford 0-13
ANTRIM senior football manager Lenny Harbinson aimed a broadside at those who deemed the north a no-go zone last weekend and accused them of “taking advantage of us under the guise of Covid”.
Harbinson’s football squad conceded home advantage and played their last Division Four game of the season against Waterford in Dundalk on Saturday after Ger Walsh’s side insisted they would not travel to the six counties for fear of Covid.
Walsh cited overnight accommodation and the potential for some of his players contracting the virus in those circumstances as the key reason why they wouldn't travel to Belfast.
Rather than accept a walkover, Antrim travelled to Geraldine’s GFC in Louth and duly defeated their Munster counterparts on the field.
Harbinson, though, was clearly livid with what many Gaels interpreted to be a partitionist attitude.
“It’s disappointing this was our home game,” said Harbinson. “This potentially creates a dangerous precedent. Little did I know that the Camogie Association of Ireland would take advantage and force Antrim camogs to play outside of Antrim [against Carlow]. It’s not right.
“We travelled to Wicklow last week, our hurlers went to Tullamore, our U20s went to Darver in Louth [Leinster U20 HC].
“So we’re doing all the travelling. Covid is all over the country and we have our challenges like anybody else. I still think it’s very poor form even though we won today and we wanted to win it on the field instead of just taking two points.”
What angered many Gaels all over the country was Waterford’s official statement released on Thursday morning that described the six counties as “Northern Ireland”.
Even though Antrim claimed a handsome seven-point victory over Waterford, it wasn’t enough to gain promotion out of the bottom division.
“The integrity of the League was very, very important so that’s why we reluctantly gave up our home venue. We made a compromise to move it from Portglenone to Belfast," Harbinson said. "That’s 30 miles outside Belfast and I don’t think there’s much Covid up there.
“That’s why you have a panel of 30, so if you have a couple of men who are struggling that’s when your panel comes into play.”