Hurling and camogie

Down hurler Danny Toner still craves an Ulster winner's medal

Danny Toner wants to help end Down's wait for an Ulster title. Their last came in 1997

DOWN attacker Danny Toner says he would hang up his hurl if he didn't think the Ardsmen could win an Ulster Championship.

Speaking at last night's official launch of the senior and shield competitions at Belfast's Balmoral Hotel, Toner maintains there is still a prestige attached to the provincial series.

Since the inception of the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher All-Ireland competitions, and Antrim's recent 14-year domination, the Ulster Senior Hurling Championship has struggled for relevance.

In a bid to breathe new life into the ailing series, the Ulster Council has brought the competition forward from June to April – before the commencement of the All-Ireland competitions.

Toner, though, still feels it's a competition worth winning.

“Maybe it would take someone else to win it other than Antrim,” acknowledged Toner.

“I mean, I wouldn't be training if I didn't think Down could win the Ulster Championship. But we need to get by Armagh first [in the semi-final].

The 24-year-old Ballygalget added: “Antrim will want to win it too. They're expected to win it. They're criticised if they don't win it and it's a case of who cares if they do win it, but I'd love to have a Ulster winner's medal.”

Last night, Ulster Council President Michael Hasson said: “Fitting it in just after the Leagues have been concluded seems to be more meaningful for the counties at this time. The new time-frame has the potential to breathe new life into hurling in Ulster.”

Ulster SFC semi-finals (Sat April 8, 3pm): Armagh v Down (Inniskeen); Antrim v Donegal (Celtic Park). Ulster SH Shield semi-finals (Sat April 8, 3pm): Tyrone v Fermanagh (Cones), Monaghan v Derry (Omagh)

Hurling and camogie

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