Hurling and camogie

Rossa hurlers have no issue with time or Dunsilly venue for Antrim SHC semi-final

Rossa boss Colly Murphy expects Cushendall to be a bigger challenge than last year Picture Mal McCann.

WHILE Cushendall expressed their discontent with the timing and venue of Sunday's Antrim SHC semi-final, their opponents O'Donovan Rossa have no such hang-ups.

The Ruairi Ogs, who lost a quarter-final to Rossa in last season's senior championship, bemoaned the 12.30pm throw-in time, the toilets provision for patrons and players at Dunsilly, the perceived tight surroundings for supporters and the pitch surface.

The county board promptly addressed the toilets provision at the venue and will have more portaloos at the Antrim town venue for Sunday's semi-final double-header between Rossa and Cushendall (12.30pm) and Dunloy versus St John's (4.30pm) and assurances were given over the pitch surface.

But throw-in remains the same.

However, Rossa senior hurling manager Collie Murphy has no issues with the time or venue although feels the county missed a trick by not playing the two eagerly awaited semi-finals Saturday and Sunday.

“The time doesn't matter to me,” said Murphy.

“We played in the League final at one o'clock in Ballycastle. We just got on with it. You mightn't like it – we didn't like it, especially when we were driving past Cushendall to get to Ballycastle. It is what it is.

“Now, we've got a county ground in Corrigan. We could have played semi-final on the Saturday and one on the Sunday. I thought that was a missed opportunity. It's been a while since there was a county semi-final played in the city – probably since we played Cushendall about six years ago.

“Dunsilly isn't the greatest for supporters but we've no issues with the playing surface.”

In terms of the early start to the first semi-final, Murphy said: “I assume – now, you know what assume means: it can make an ‘ass' of ‘u' and ‘me' – it's probably to do with making sure they can clear the decks for the second semi-final at 4.30pm. Last year it was a lot easier because you were only allowed 250 spectators, whereas you're looking at a lot more for each game on Sunday.

“I can understand St John's not wanting to use Corrigan for our match on the same day as they were playing because of stewarding but I thought that's why the county board could have played the semi-finals Saturday and Sunday as it would give the games more exposure and people better opportunity to watch both rather than do you leave and come back to Dunsilly for the next game.”

Rossa looked in fine fettle during the group stages winning three out of three against Ballycastle, St Enda's and Loughgiel with Murphy citing the middle game as his side's best performance to date.

Last year, they made everyone sit up and take notice after their brilliant quarter-final display that saw off Cushendall at St Enda's – but with the north Antrim men looking fresher and fitter than 2020, Murphy fully expects a much tougher test on Sunday.

“I think we caught Cushendall on the hop last year. I wouldn't say they took us lightly but they weren't expecting what they got from us and it was probably a bit of a shock to their system. You very rarely catch anybody twice so they'll be better prepared for us this year than they were last year.

“They've got a new management team in and are set up really well. We played them in the League final and they beat us handy enough – we'd no complaints. He's got players back in what I would call their traditional positions.”

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Hurling and camogie