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Antrim's problems can't be blamed on PJ, maintains Liam Watson

By Declan Bogue

Published 05/04/2016

Big issue: Liam Watson says a lack of support is taking its toll
Big issue: Liam Watson says a lack of support is taking its toll

Liam Watson has issued a strong defence of former Antrim hurling manager PJ O'Mullan, despite the duo parting ways this season prior to the London league match.

O'Mullan caused a stir by quitting last Friday and Watson said: "I just feel sorry for him with the way Antrim is at the minute. It's not his fault. There is a county board there, and there are no funds."

Referring to the players' expenses, he said: "We were asked to take pay cuts. What's the point in going out for six nights a week if you know you are having to take a pay cut? That's where the whole fun thing comes into it. You just ask, 'what's the point?'

"I left the panel before the London game. I just wasn't happy with the way things were going."

A wave of optimism greeted the group of concerned Antrim GAA people entitled 'Saffron Vision' as they claimed six of the positions on the county board.

Read more: Antrim duty wiped away my joy, says Liam Watson

However, Watson believes they have inherited long-standing problems.

"I would say they didn't think Antrim county was in such a bad state until they got in. They are all good businessmen and they are going to try and run it as a business to get the accounts going again. But you can't cut the players. It's not the players' fault things are bad," he said.

Antrim are due to face Kildare in the Christy Ring Cup on April 23. A new manager has to be put in place before that, but while Watson does not shut the door on a return to the squad, he isn't overly keen either.

"We are always being told we would get what we needed, but there would be a cut in it," he said.

"They couldn't even get us all an Antrim hurling bag. We were coming to matches and training in our club stuff and then we are trying to get club rivalry out of the way!

"We asked for gear, but it's stuff from years ago. O'Neill's are our kit makers. You go into their shops and you see there are a pile of nice new hoodies out. Antrim players weren't getting them.

"What's the point in going half-hearted, saying you want Antrim to do well, but not giving the backing?

"I don't know (about going back). I am far happier at Loughgiel training to be honest. I just think there's no enjoyment at it (county). I am not saying I don't enjoy the players, it's just that you are out six nights a week and I just don't like the situation.

"I don't like complaining about it, because then people say, 'all you want is a tracksuit', but it's not. We want support."

Pushed for an answer on a return, he asks the inevitable, but nonetheless depressing question for Antrim hurling a few weeks out from Championship: "I don't know. I will wait and see. Who would even come in and take it?"

Belfast Telegraph

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