Murphy’s fears and hopes for Ulster sides
Provincial Director Danny Murphy has hailed what he describes as “the more level playing field” that now pertains on the football front in Ulster.
Ahead of this weekend’s crucial matches in the National League which could have major implications for several teams, Murphy pinpoints the emergence from the doldrums of Antrim and Down but expresses concerns that the province could now lose two sides from Division One.
“This has been a fascinating league competition to date and it is building up towards a tremendous climax when the final series of games is staged a fortnight hence.
“We in Ulster have a lot to be proud of but I would have to say that there are some worrying features as well,” states Murphy.
With the strong possibility that Tyrone and Derry could yet tumble through the Division One relegation trapdoor, Murphy voices the fear that the northern province may now not enjoy enhanced representation in the top bracket next term.
“Obviously the hope still is that Tyrone and Derry will survive but if they don’t, then it is reasonable to assume at this point in time that perhaps two from Down, Armagh or Donegal might replace them.
“I would much prefer if this were to be a case of in addition to rather than instead of but we have to face up to reality.
“The statistics do not lie — a more level playing field is certainly unfolding,” says Murphy pointedly.
And the rise and rise of Down and Antrim is viewed as a considerable source of encouragement, certainly from an Ulster perspective.
“If Down beat Westmeath they will go into Division One and if Antrim beat Louth it’s likely they will come out of Division Three into Division Two.
“This means that both these teams would win promotion in successive seasons and you can’t ask for more consistency than that.
“Antrim reached last year’s Ulster final against Tyrone and there are indications that Down could be a championship force this year so league progress can certainly have longer term benefits,” stresses Murphy.