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'Sambo' lashes club-only month while Bennett opts out

Waterford's Shane Bennett. Photo: Sportsfile
Waterford's Shane Bennett. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Terence McNaughton is never one to mince his words when it comes to hurling matters and the Antrim joint-manager has voiced his disapproval at the GAA's decision to make April a 'club-only' month, saying that the decision was designed only for stronger counties.

'Sambo' will oversee the Saffrons with Dominic McKinley for 2018 and their side will commence their championship campaign in the inaugural Joe McDonagh Cup in the first weekend in May having not collectively trained together for a month, something the Antrim legend feels is impractical and unfair.

"Some genius decided to give the clubs April - our championship is set to start on the first weekend in May. There has to be a discussion about that.

"Anybody who knows anything about hurling knows we are going to need the players in April to prepare for the championship," he told the 'Belfast Telegraph'.

"It all comes very quick this year. Now, clubs in Antrim will have their players in July, August, September right through. There is no problem there. Even if Antrim are successful, our season is over in July.

"That 'for the clubs thing' is designed for the Kilkennys and Tipperarys of this world, not Antrim, Down or Meath. We aren't going to be playing in the All-Ireland final in August."

Elsewhere, it is expected that Waterford will be without the services of ace attacker Shane Bennett for the foreseeable future as he takes some time away from the inter-county scene.

Bennett, who only turned 21 last month and made his senior championship debut against Cork in 2015 while sitting his Leaving Certificate, informed Déise boss Derek McGrath before Christmas that he wished to take a break.

Team management had hoped that Bennett, whose brothers Kieran and Stephen are also members of the Waterford squad, might have a change of heart after returning from their team holiday but according to Waterford sources, that has not materialised.

In football, Galway's opening Division 1 encounter with Tyrone on Sunday week has been moved to Tuam Stadium, having originally been part of a double-header in Pearse Stadium with the Tribe hurlers as the reigning All-Ireland champions face Antrim in Division 1B.

Meanwhile, last night's rescheduled Kehoe Cup meeting between Longford and DCU/St Patrick's bit the dust for the third time in recent weeks and is re-fixed for tonight.

Originally fixed for January 7, it was called off due to a frozen pitch and rescheduled for Tuesday night before falling victim to adverse weather. The winners will have just 48 hours to prepare for their final meeting with Wicklow 'B'.

Irish Independent

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