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PSNI lined up for historic Croker date with Garda

By John Campbell

This has been a year of historic firsts to date for the GAA, highlighted by the Queen’s visit to Croke Park in May.

Another landmark event is planned for tomorrow week when the PSNI gaelic football team will meet their Garda counterparts for the first time at Headquarters.

The teams have met on an annual basis for the McCarthy Cup since 2002 but this will be the first occasion on which the match will be played in Croke Park.

The McCarthy Cup is named after Thomas St George McCarthy who was a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary and was one of the founders of the GAA at a meeting in Hayes Hotel, Thurles in 1884.

In recent years, the PSNI squad has acquired an extended membership and now plays more matches each year.

But the game against the Garda is the highlight of their fixtures calendar, particularly as the southern side can on occasions parade players with county experience.

Down through the years people like Brian McCargo have worked hard to nurture interest in GAA affairs within the PSNI and interest in the team’s success is currently greater than ever.

The GAA had no hesitation in throwing the doors of Croke Park open for the match, particularly as relations between the two police forces have seldom been better.

The PSNI side will include a raft of young players from across the province but they are expected to face a stiff test against a Garda side that could carry rather more experience.

Members of the security forces here were of course barred from playing hurling and football until the GAA scrapped its controversial Rule 21 some ten years ago.

l LEINSTER have expressed surprise at Antrim's decision to quit the Walsh Cup after competing in the pre-season competition since 2005.

New Antrim manager, Jerry Wallis explained that after consulting with the players and County Board, it had been agreed not to compete in the 2012 Walsh Cup. Instead, he will concentrate on getting to know his squad and on working on their fitness in preparation for the Allianz Hurling League campaign.

He believes that will have more long term benefit than coming south to play in the Walsh Cup.

Leinster Council chairman, Martin Skelly said: “It's Antrim's call but I would have thought playing in the Walsh Cup would be a help to them before they go into the League. They have played very well in it over the years.

“We were delighted to have themselves and Galway in the Walsh Cup and Leinster championship.”

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