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Frustrated Damian Casey hits out at roadblocks to promotion

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone hurling captain Damian Casey has railed against the National Hurling League rule that forces the winners of each division to face the side from the league above them in a promotion/relegation play-off.

The Red Hands beat Roscommon in their final group match on Sunday, leaving them in a Division 3A final against Monaghan, whom they drew with in the opening round of the league.

And even if they beat the Oriel men, they will still have to play the losers of Donegal and Mayo to gain entry to Division 2B in 2016.

"It's very, very frustrating," said the Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon clubman.

Citing their experiences of difficulties in progressing through the ranks from last year, Casey continued: "It was the same problem last year whenever we won the Nicky Rackard. They expected us then to go out and play Down a week or two weeks after the Nicky Rackard final.

"For me, I think it's a nonsense rule. If you win your league you should be promoted and that's that. It's very frustrating whenever they expect you to play more and more games. I think if you win your league you should be given a fair chance at the next division."

Casey, who currently heads Tyrone's scoring charts for the league, added that this was a factor the Hurling 2020 committee should have taken under consideration, asking: "How are you going to improve? You are putting in good work and you win your league, and then you have to play another game. Why not let the team go up and give it a crack?

"How are you going to improve if they insist in putting roadblocks in your way?"

Apart from that opening day draw, Tyrone have won all of their other matches. As Casey insists, he expected nothing less having won the Nicky Rackard Cup last year.

"If you are looking at last year, all the teams that we have played so far in the league are teams that we would have been beating last year as well," he said.

"We beat Roscommon in the semi-final of the Nicky Rackard Cup last year by seven or eight points. Louth are a Nicky Rackard team, as are Monaghan and Fermanagh. They are teams that we are more than capable of beating.

"We set out our targets at the start of the year and promotion was definitely an achievable target for us."

Casey also praised the coaching job that Mattie Lennon has done since coming in at the start of last year. The former Derrynoose and Armagh hurler has also been manager of Armagh and Monaghan hurlers, as well as the Orchard under-21 football team.

At the start of his tenure, he brought in Sean Bradley as strength and conditioning coach, and David Kennedy as selector.

"He is first-class. For a man from Armagh to be as close to us boys, he is second-to-none," said Casey.

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