Monday 16 December 2019

County Call - Grassroots news from around the provinces

Referee Barry Kelly's actions in the Leinster Hurling Final have proved to be controversial
Referee Barry Kelly's actions in the Leinster Hurling Final have proved to be controversial

Cian Tracy

Waterford - Tony Browne insists that his old team-mate John Mullane could still do a job for the current Waterford team having watched him perform "superbly" in this year's club championship.

Mullane (33) retired from inter-county hurling in January 2013 citing mental fatigue, but Browne is adamant he could still add value to Derek McGrath's side.

"Looking at him up close in the last couple of weeks, he was super in the club championship. It's a different kettle of fish in inter-county though. It's a huge step up but could he do it? 100pc," Browne said.

"The man is only 33, he could have played for another year and even this year. But like any inter-county player, if they feel they can't give 100pc commitment, they're not going to do it because that's what it takes.

"You'd wonder where we would be if he was still playing, but that's the decision someone makes," he added.

Wexford

County Board chairman Diarmuid Devereux has admitted Wexford will struggle to provide club representatives for the Leinster championships depending on the success of the senior and U-21 hurlers.

Devereux addressed the issue at a full county board meeting on Wednesday but admitted that it was one of the nicer headaches to have.

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"I used to dream about having this problem a few years ago," he said.

"Wexford hurling I hope is back at the top table. If we're going to be like this for the next five or six years, up among the elite six or seven teams, this is going to be a problem and maybe we'll have to revisit our whole fixtures model as a consequence."

Three rounds remain in the hurling and football club championships but Devereux acknowledged that it would be difficult for them to be ready in time for their Leinster fixtures.

"The way it's looking at the moment, we'll just about get there but if we do beat Waterford, us being ready for the Leinster fixtures in either one or two of the grades would be doubtful enough, I would imagine," he added.

Westmeath

County Board chairman Sean Sheridan has written to RTE to express his anger over comments made live on television by Michael Duignan about referee Barry Kelly during last Sunday's Leinster hurling final.

Duignan, who was working as an analyst for RTE, remarked that a decision made by Kelly was "coming from someone who doesn't understand hurling".

Sheridan, who refereed for more than 30 years, has expressed his disappointment over what he believes is a personal attack on a referee who has officiated three All-Ireland finals.

"Barry Kelly is an outstanding referee and handled the Leinster final very well," Sheridan said.

"Referee-bashing has reached a new low as far as I'm concerned and I am certainly willing, and proud, to stand by our man and reject these comments."

Kerry

After the shock of reigning champions Dr Crokes being dethroned by Legion last weekend, attentions in the Kingdom this weekend turn to the beginning of the senior hurling championship.

The championship will follow a similar format as the Christy Ring tournament, meaning teams will play again next weekend.

All four games take place at Austin Stack Park with the action starting tonight when Ballyheigue take on Lixnaw. Tomorrow sees the meeting of Causeway and Kilmoyley.

There is a double bill on Sunday with Abbeydorney and Crotta O'Neills getting under way at 1.0, while reigning champions St Brendan's play Ballyduff at 2.30.

Wicklow

Ashford GAA club, the oldest in the county's history, have bought a playing pitch from the Wicklow County Board meaning that for the first time in their existence, they will have their own pitch. Ashford GAA was established in 1885 – just a year after the GAA was founded in Thurles – but after 129 years, they have purchased the local GAA pitch for €250,000.

Club chairman Ronnie Phillips revealed plans for major changes at the club to include new dressing-rooms and an underage pitch, while €80,000 the club received in Lotto funding will go towards the development programme.

Clare

Senior football manager Colm Collins has rejected the notion that he will draft in players from Clare's losing hurling panel for tomorrow's All-Ireland qualifier against Kildare.

There was a suggestion Collins could be tempted to bolster his squad, but he insisted that only those who have been involved with the panel from the start would be considered. "At this point of the year we have an excellent squad of 32 and that's it," Collins said.

"There is no doubt about it, there is a heap of them there (who could play both codes). But with regards to parachuting someone in at this stage, no, that won't be happening."

Donegal

Despite not having played inter-county football for three years, Kevin Cassidy maintains that he is still more than capable of competing at that level.

The two-time All Star was dropped from Jim McGuinness' panel in 2011 for his contribution to a GAA book which meant that he missed out on his county's second All-Ireland success.

Although he said fitness wouldn't be an issue for him, having had time away from the game, his dedication wouldn't be what it used to.

"Without a doubt, no problem I'd be able to play county level," Cassidy said. "If someone said right now, 'Kevin, you have to go back into play', it wouldn't be fitness-wise or talent-wise you'd miss out, it would be commitment."

Tyrone

Armagh may have knocked Tyrone out of the All-Ireland championship last weekend but the Orchard County's boss has spoken of his admiration for Mickey Harte amid suggestions that Harte should call time on his tenure in charge of the Red Hands.

"Mickey Harte is one of the truly great managers and will do a lot more for Tyrone," Paul Grimley said.

"I think that Tyrone are fortunate to have a man of his calibre at the helm. If you talk to other present and past managers they will tell you that Mickey is up there among the greats."

Tipperary

Former Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins will defend his All-Ireland Poc Fada title on Saturday, August 2 on Annaverna Mountain in Co Louth.

Cummins, who is bidding to claim a record-breaking eighth senior title, won his first Poc Fada back in 2004.

In the camogie event, Waterford's Patricia Jackman will be aiming to win her fifth title.

The official launch takes places in Market Square, Dundalk at 3.0 this afternoon.

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