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McManus calls for help for hurling's developing counties


Neil McManus. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile

Neil McManus. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile


Neil McManus. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile

Antrim hurling star Neil McManus has called on the GAA to set up a working group aimed exclusively at developing hurling outside the traditional powers.

With McManus and his Saffron team-mates hurling in Division 2A and the Christy Ring Cup, they have first-hand experience of the work being done to improve standards at the lower levels.

And he wants the GAA to help counties continue that progress.

"I would love to see a committee set up whereby it is solely set up to develop hurling in counties outside possibly the top six or top eight in Ireland," said the Antrim star.

"We're seeing a massive decline in Offaly hurling at the minute as well, we're seeing a massive decline in hurling in different areas but I notice it now playing in 2A, there's huge work going on in Kildare and Westmeath and Carlow.

"It's massive to see Armagh as the other team in 2A out of Ulster. It's only Antrim and Armagh that are in 2A.

"There's work to be done and a bit more support and a bit more thought just into how we could help those counties would pay dividends. I genuinely believe that."

The Cushendall clubman returned to the Antrim set-up this year after taking a year out to go travelling in 2016.

erupted McManus was in Vietnam when the controversy surrounding the Christy Ring Cup final erupted and could only watch on as they went down to Meath in the replay.

"I was just watching it on my fiancée's iPad. She said it was one of the worst bits of the trip because I didn't speak for three days after it."

He's back on board now and while they have made an unbeaten start to their league campaign, McManus admits there's much work to be done before they can expect to compete at the top table.

"We probably owe a lot to Sambo (McNaughton), Dominick McKinley and Gary O'Kane who have come in and taken over the reins management-wise.

"We put in a very tough pre-season. It was about honesty, hard work, bringing the core values Antrim were always known for.

"Even those great teams through the 1980s and '90s, whenever they were competitive and in Division 1. When it was a six-team Division 1, they were competitive at that time. They were known as being a hard-working, robust team who would have died for each other - that's what we're trying to instil.

"I think they have been successful in the sense that it has been a good start - but that's all it is, a good start."

Irish Independent