Sport Hurling

Sunday 18 February 2018

Antrim chief Murray pours cold water on GPA plans for 'united Ulster'

Murray: Surprised
Murray: Surprised
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Antrim's leading GAA official has dismissed a suggestion from the Gaelic Players' Association for a combined Ulster team to compete in the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

A motion was passed at the AGM of the players' body in Dublin on Friday evening prior to the All Star banquet proposing examination of the "possibility" of an all-Ulster team at some stage in the future.

Initially the GPA have recommended Ulster combine minor and U-21 squads to compete in the All-Ireland series "as a precursor" to entering an agreed Ulster team in the Liam MacCarthy.

However, Jim Murray, the Antrim chairman, felt his county "would not be interested" and would be content to go it alone despite their loss in Leinster this season to Westmeath and subsequent hammering by Limerick in the qualifiers.

Murray said he was surprised such a motion was even framed as there had been no prior consultation with the relevant boards.

"I know this is an initiative from a players' body looking to explore it but I'm surprised it has come into the public domain like this without any prior consultation with us," said Murray. "I can't speak for any other Ulster county but as regards ourselves I wouldn't see us discussing this for too long. Our aim is to try and improve Antrim hurling. I don't honestly see how this move could achieve this. I'd have thought there are other problems first for a players' body to deal with."

Antrim have recently had their own appraisal of hurling in the county and a review committee under the chairmanship of former manager Jim Nelson has reported back to the county board.

They are the only Ulster county to play in the MacCarthy Cup. The other counties fall well below that standard, though Armagh did lift the Nicky Rackard Cup this year.

Ulster vice president Martin McAvinney is chairman of the provincial group's hurling development body.

"I don't know what the mechanism is for a GPA motion of this nature and I couldn't say if there is an appetite for it. There is a lot going on with the game in the province at the moment that would be outside the norm," he said.

The combined Ulster hurling squad motion was one of four passed by the GPA at their agm.

They are also seeking support for the retention of the grants scheme.

Irish Independent

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