Antrim hurling chief slams final decision
Antrim secretary Frankie Quinn has lambasted what he describes as "the total hypocrisy" which he believes the GAA authorities reveal in the promotion of hurling.
Quinn, a former Ulster Council hurling development officer and someone who has carried a flag for the sport through thick and thin down through the decades, also fired a sharp broadside at Central Council for its adherence to a venue decision made four years ago.
"The GAA shows total hypocrisy in its so-called efforts to promote hurling in weaker counties and we have another helping of this now that Antrim have reached the All-Ireland Under 21 final," declares Quinn.
"Look at the facts – we are facing Clare who have played most of their matches in Semple Stadium, Thurles, the venue for the final, and this is now almost like a home from home for them.
"In contrast, it's a four-and-a-half hour journey for us whereas it's virtually next door to Clare.
"I ask you – where is the fair play in that? Surely Antrim deserve better consideration than this?"
An irate Quinn, who has been involved in numerous initiatives to foster the sport at all levels and has worked tirelessly to ensure its development in the under-age sector in particular, takes the powerful Croke Park Competitions Control Committee to task for continuing to implement a Central Council decision which he maintains could be "temporarily shelved" in relation to the forthcoming Under-21 final.
"Central Council decided four years ago that every All-Ireland Under-21 hurling final in the future should be played at Thurles," points out Quinn.
"That was thought to be a very convenient, even cosy, arrangement at the time.
"I don't believe that Central Council thought for one moment that a team from the other end of the country would ever in their wildest dreams reach an All-Ireland Under-21 final.
"Well, Antrim have now arrived in the final and although our manager Kevin Ryan has made a very justifiable and articulate case for us not taking part in the game if it goes ahead at Thurles, we would probably be forced to fulfil the fixture anyway.
"I think the Central Council decision could be temporarily shelved.
"But the choice of venue underlines the hypocrisy of those at the top in relation to the promotion of hurling."
Antrim would quite happily settle for a more neutral venue even if it meant a journey of 150 miles.
"We are not afraid of Clare, not in the least. But we would like to be shown some form of consideration," adds Quinn.
And he believes that Antrim's participation in the final on Saturday, September 14 will serve to boost interest in the sport within the county.
"If we were to win the title, it would be a dream come true," he admits.
"But whatever the result this Antrim side has already played its part in giving the sport a major shot in the arm and they deserve massive credit for that."