Hurling and camogie

Antrim and Galway should compete at all levels in Leinster says Aogán Ó Fearghail

Antrim's Odhrán McFadden attempts to get clear of Carlow's Diarmuid Byrne during the 2015 Leinster SHC
Picture by John  McIlwaine 
Kenny Archer in Dubai

ANTRIM and Galway should both be allowed to compete in Leinster hurling championships at all levels, argues GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail.

Greater inclusion of the Tribes men has been a major talking point recently, but the Cavan man also raised the case of the Saffrons, despite resistance from within Leinster: “Yes, there are some counties in Leinster that have expressed total opposition… [but] I think we need to grasp the nettle and that’s Galway’s position and Antrim’s position. Other counties are just going to have to accept that.”

Speaking in Dubai on the football Allstars tour, Ó Fearghail reiterated he has been seeking such changes ever since his election: “I have no doubt that it’s for ourselves to deal with. I was asked by you guys very shortly after I came in as uachtarán - I don’t think it ever appeared anywhere - [and I said] that I thought it was unfair to Galway with the situation they were in and I still believe that,’’ he added.

“I accept that there are issues for Leinster counties also but it’s gone too long. I see a total unfairness in the situation and I think you need to look at it and [GAA director-general] Páraic [Duffy] and myself have already decided.

“We’re being consistent in everything that we’re doing, we haven’t been setting up work groups to go away and do things, we deal with it ourselves and we will deal with it and we are going to address it and we’ll address it almost immediately when congress is finished.”

Ó Fearghail ruled out Galway going into Munster, saying they and Antrim need to be included fully in Leinster: “I’m not sure that [Galway in Munster] is a viable option, no, I really don’t. I think you are just moving something from one chair to another chair,’’ he added.

“This a complete package, Galway aren’t the only county impacted. Antrim are a county who, at the moment, are in the Christy Ring Cup. But when they play and I’ve no doubt they will, back in the Liam MacCarthy, they are a county whose position needs to be looked at.

“It’s a bit strange to see that Antrim, for example, can play maybe in the Liam McCarthy Cup at senior, but yet their minors and U21s not [in Leinster]. I think we need to look at that whole package of where we are going with counties that are just at the fringe and yet have no opposition beside them - and that’s not being disrespectful to Derry or Down or Connacht.”

Ó Fearghail accepts that making major changes will be tricky: “It’s a bit like the championship proposals in football, it’s going to be very limited what we can do.

“We have an exciting, wonderful product in the Munster Hurling Championship and that is going to have to be fairly well preserved as it is. Now there is in Leinster also. How do we solve this? It’s going to be difficult, but we are not going to hide from it…

“Have we reached the stage where we have a Munster Championship and a rest of Ireland championship? We’ll have to put a number of proposals before these counties and let them see.

“It still goes back to the point of fairness. Galway, as a strong hurling county, the situation they are currently in, there is no fairness attached to that, we have to accept that.”

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Hurling and camogie