Armagh manager Brian McAlinden has lashed the Ulster Council’s controversial decision to stage the Cadbury’s Ulster Under 21 championship semi final between Donegal and Armagh in Ballybofey this night week.
Armagh secured a semi final spot by virtue of a narrow victory over Cavan in the Athletic Grounds last week.
McAlindenwas insistent from day one that the semi final should be played at a neutral venue.
As far as he was concerned Healy Park was the ideal venue and he expressed that view immediately after his side had edged out Cavan.
The Ulster Council though, in its wisdom, insisted that a toss of a coin would decide the venue.
The coin came down in Donegal’s favour and so Ballybofey is the venue, much to McAlinden’s anger and disgust.
“I would love to know who came up with the brilliant idea of tossing for choice of venue.
“The whole saga beggars belief. The Ulster Council is suposedly trying to promote the Under 21 championship, but tell me how are young f ellows in employment supposed to get to Ballybofey and prepare for a match that has a 7.30 start.
“If that’s not bad enough should it end in a draw extra time must be played.” said McAlinden.
The Ulster Council will argue that it has to have the competition run off by a certain time. That is all very laudable, but in this case there appears to be extenuating circumstaces.
No less than four of Armagh’s squad are attending university outside of the country, David Comiskey (Dundee), Martin McCorry and Mark McConville (Newcastle) and JJ Clarke (Liverpool).
“I’ve asked the Ulster Council if they are prepared to finance these players for taking time off. Even players living in Armagh will have to quit work early to get to Ballybofey in time,” fumes McAlinden.