Sunday 22 July 2018

Antrim and Kildare hurlers release statement protesting 'unfairness and inconsideration' of Joe McDonagh playoff

23 June 2018; Mark Delaney, left, and Bernard Deay of Kildare celebrate at the final whistle following the Christy Ring Cup Final match between London and Kildare at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
23 June 2018; Mark Delaney, left, and Bernard Deay of Kildare celebrate at the final whistle following the Christy Ring Cup Final match between London and Kildare at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The Antrim and Kildare hurlers have released a joint-statement ahead of their Joe McDonagh Cup playoff this Saturday stating that the competition should maintain a six-team format next season.

Six counties - Carlow, Westmeath, Antrim, Kerry, Laois and Meath - took part in the inaugural tournament this year, but it will be reduced to just five sides for 2019.

The Royal county have already been relegated, while Antrim - who finished second last in the standings - will face Kildare in a promotion/relegation playoff on Saturday to determine who will play in the Christy Ring Cup next season.

Last night, the teams in action this Saturday released a joint statement protesting this weekend's encounter, stating that both sides should be allowed compete in next year's Joe McDonagh Cup.

"We feel it is incumbent on us to highlight the unfairness and inconsideration surrounding this fixture in the hope that we can positively affect change for the future," they said.

"The Joe McDonagh Cup should remain at six teams; a request which is made in the interest of competitiveness, fair-play and equity.

"The McDonagh Cup has shown everyone how competitive hurling at the lower levels has become and the tier below the Liam MacCarthy should encourage teams to achieve higher standards, not shut them out. This is a point which many panels have echoed throughout the year.

"Regardless of the result on Saturday both panels will support each other to retain the six-team McDonagh Cup format and pursue all possible avenues to make this happen.

"A five-team team competition is illogical and only serves to make it more difficult for aspiring counties to compete. Antrim should remain in the competition as they did not finish bottom and Kildare should fill the relegated sixth spot."

The statement also attacked the decision to stage the playoff just one week after Kildare's Christy Ring Cup final win.

"The scheduling of this fixture exemplifies a blatant disregard for the welfare of the players," they said.

"Both panels acknowledge that the week turnaround, the date, the timing and the location were not fixed with the best interest of players in mind. We call for a more transparent, communicative, flexible and equitable process to be considered when fixing matches, especially of this nature and given the circumstances of all players involved."

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