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Ulster final has been devalued by delay: Ennis

Bt Declan Bogue

DoWN defender Michael Ennis has sent a message to the Ulster Council, who have stated that the 2013 Ulster hurling final will take place on Sunday, February 2, no matter if Down should reach the Kehoe Cup final the same weekend.

The Ballycran clubman referred to the Ulster Council's failure to create a contingency plan when Down's run to the Christy Ring Cup clashed with the initial date set for the provincial hurling final last summer.

"The correct provisions were not taken at the time last July when replays were going ahead and other things were implicated," he said.

"It's no surprise that they haven't made any provisions this year either."

He also stated that because of the long delay, the competition has become devalued, commenting: "It's the middle of January, boys are only getting back from Christmas, all we want to do is play games, get a bit of match practise.

"Is the Ulster final at the minute going to carry any more weight than a Kehoe Cup final? Not really, so whatever fixture is made the boys will play it."

Ennis was careful to note that the players will do as instructed by management, but admits to a level of apathy over the Liam Harvey Cup decider.

"There's absolutely no excitement about it now at all," he added.

"It's a pre-season game for probably both teams at the minute and that's all it will be.

"The fact is now, you are playing it with quite a few boys dropped off both panels that would have been playing last year, you are playing it without any members of the Loughgiel team.

"So to me, it's just a pre-season game at this stage."

He reveals that a number of the opposition share his stance: "I would be friendly with a lot of the Antrim players and the ones I spoke to would feel the same as I do. There's no buzz about it."

Ennis also criticised what he felt was misleading information seeping out of the Antrim camp last season over the re-arrangement of the fixture.

"What bugged me as a Down player were statements coming from people in Antrim blaming Down players going away on holidays and that kind of thing," he said.

Turning his attention on fixture-makers in Antrim, he added: "It was ignored that we had played 15 games over an 18-week period and Antrim weren't keen to make any noise about the fact that Down had approached them for the last three years asking them to look at the league structure.

"The fact of the matter is for the last three years we have been playing Antrim league games for our clubs every day after our Christy Ring fixtures which is a huge sore point for Down players."

He also revealed that a number of key figures in Down's Christy Ring Cup triumph will be unavailable.

"Kevin McGarry, Liam Morgan, Andy Savage, Eoin Clarke, Paul Braniff haven't been back, and they all have a mixture of family and work commitments," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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