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Farney barney rumbles on as McHugh sees red

THE Farney hurling fiasco has taken another twist with claims from the disgruntled Monaghan squad that their county board is "happy" that they don't have an inter-county hurling team.

Monaghan have already conceded a walkover to Fingal in this Sunday's Allianz NHL Division 3A final, arising from a stand-off between the hurling camp and their county board over the scheduling of club football fixtures for tonight.

As the row intensifies, there are now real fears that Monaghan won't play another hurling match this season and will be forced to pull out of the Nicky Rackard Cup as well.

Against this entrenched backdrop, experienced Monaghan hurler Michael McHugh has blasted the GAA executive in his county.

"We feel it is only right to make a stand. The county board have left us with no choice and, if we back down now, this is going to continue any time the hurlers make any progress," predicted the GPA representative, before claiming that the board "seem to be happy enough that we now don't have a hurling team in Monaghan, and the football fixtures are back in line and everything can continue on."

Team manager Mattie Lennon had already resigned in protest, last Friday night, when local football league fixtures scheduled for tonight were not postponed on request. His squad has backed his position and refused the board's offer of an interim manager.

According to Lennon, seven of the intermediate fixtures involved clubs with players on the county hurling team; four clubs felt they could play these matches without dual players, three weren't in a position to do so and so the hurlers requested that these three games be switched. The Monaghan hurlers have trained every Wednesday night since January.

Armagh native Lennon has defended his position, declaring: "This is a national final we have qualified for. It deserves to be taken seriously for the week. But again, I think it's indicative of the way hurling is looked at ... if it was football, I'm sure there would be no questions asked if a request was made to put off these club games."

On the question of whether Monaghan will now field a team in the Rackard Cup, McHugh said: "Right now, I can't see it. When the players ended our meeting on Monday, we were united on one thing - if we weren't training tonight, we wouldn't be playing again this year. I'd like to think that we would still be as united on that."

Fingal manager Willie Bourke described the scenario whereby they win a league title without playing the final as "fierce disappointing for the lads", adding: "We're still going to keep our plan together just in case there's a resolution."