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O'Mullan's appointment will avoid more tragicomedy

By Declan Bogue

Published 11/11/2015

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th February 2014
Loughgiel Shamrocks (Antrim) v Mount Leinster Rangers (Carlow)
AIB All Ireland Club Senior Hurling Chamionship semi-final at Pairc Esler Newry
Loughgiel Shamrocks manger PJ O'Mullan
Mandatory Credit John McIlwaine - ©INPHO/Presseye
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 8th February 2014 Loughgiel Shamrocks (Antrim) v Mount Leinster Rangers (Carlow) AIB All Ireland Club Senior Hurling Chamionship semi-final at Pairc Esler Newry Loughgiel Shamrocks manger PJ O'Mullan Mandatory Credit John McIlwaine - ©INPHO/Presseye

The other day, I was discussing with another journalist the goings-on of the Antrim hurling team in 2012. The other man described then-manager Jerry Wallace's period of time in charge of the group as 'Tragicomic'.

It was an apt description. Wallace came to Antrim and brought a serious reputation as one of the trainers of Cork's dynamic and innovative group that won two All-Irelands in the middle of the Noughties.

Serious hurling intellects such as Sean Óg hAilpín and Donal Óg Cusack would lavish praise on Wallace.

For a number of reasons, it didn't work out for him in Antrim and when he left under a cloud, admitting he had tried to influence RTÉ pundits over an incident in a Leinster defeat to Westmeath, he bizarrely landed back at training soon after, believing he was retained as selector.

By that stage, Antrim had gone back and recruited the late, great, Jim Nelson, who knew nothing of the county board's intentions to keep Wallace. He found the whole thing a bit confusing.

Antrim hardly covered themselves in glory with that incident involving their most decorated and widely-loved manager, but now it appears they have seriously disrespected Nelson's captain of the 1989 team, Ciaran Barr.

Tasked with finding the right man to take over from Kevin Ryan, Barr is widely believed to have told Antrim that PJ O'Mullan, the man who led Loughgiel to the 2012 All-Ireland club title, was their man and to ratify him as soon as possible.

However, O'Mullan was called to do a second interview on Tuesday night. In the meantime, more contenders have been invited to clock up the mileage from Munster.

Tonight, the clubs will be given a name and asked to rubber-stamp the process. If it is not O'Mullan, then the process has a rather nasty stench.

Nasty, but familiar.

Belfast Telegraph

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