No respect in hurling set-up: Derry boss Ger Rogan
Derry hurling manager Ger Rogan has launched a scathing attack on the Ulster Hurling Championship and is urging authorities to overhaul the competition.
Rogan takes issue with the Ulster Council over its choice of match venues, disputes Antrim's automatic entry into the provincial final and suggests that "lesser counties" aren't respected.
Ahead of his team's Ulster semi-final replay against Down tomorrow Rogan suggests a re-vamp of the flagship tournament could trigger a boost for the sport.
"We had a tremendous battle with Down last Sunday and we were deadlocked after two periods of extra-time, but the match was played in Clones in front of a sparse crowd," said Rogan.
"We were happy to toss for the choice of venue and would have been content enough to go to Ballycran – and I am sure Down wouldn't have objected to coming to Owenbeg.
"Now the teams are going to the Athletic Grounds, Armagh for the replay, which is an excellent venue, but not geographically suitable for this match. Who is going to travel from the likes of Portaferry or Dungiven to Armagh?
"At least if one of the teams had home advantage there would be a much better atmosphere and whichever side had to travel might have been even more motivated."
Rogan is adamant that the competition is not fulfiling the purpose of serving the best interests of hurling in the province.
"Take for example a meeting of Fermanagh and Down. What a massive boost it would give hurling in Fermanagh if such a fixture was played at Lisbellaw, which in a sense is the real home of Fermanagh hurling," said Rogan.
"I think that perceived lesser counties like Fermanagh, Donegal and Tyrone deserve more respect.
"These counties have shown themselves to be very capable in the likes of the Lory Meagher Cup, but the only way they are going to improve is by challenging themselves against better teams."
Rogan, himself a former Antrim player, believes that his native county should not enjoy automatic entry to the Ulster final.
"I know they are perennial Ulster champions but I don't think that they should be granted this privilege," states Rogan. "Places in finals should have to be earned."
DERRY: D McDermott; R McCloskey, C Quinn, E McGuckin; A Rafferty, O McCloskey, C McQuillan; S McGuigan, M O'Hagan; T McCloskey, J O'Dwyer, A Kelly; P Cleary, R Convery, C Convery.