Passionate Gardiner calls for return of inter-pro series
CORK'S John Gardiner has urged Croke Park authorities to reinstate the inter-provincial series after they were shelved for at least a year by Congress last weekend.
In a move that is seen as the first step towards phasing out the competitions completely, Gardiner insisted the appetite for the series remains strong among inter-county hurlers. And while Kerry's Marc O Se admitted that the competition was being increasingly marginalised in the football calendar, Gardiner is pushing for its reinstatement.
"I definitely think it is disappointing," he said. "Every time I have been asked to tog out for it I have and I've really enjoyed playing it. Some of the games have been very competitive. The one that stands out the most was the final in Boston against Leinster (in 2005). That was a very competitive game with only one point in it at the end.
"We definitely went for it and I know the Leinster fellas really went for it as well. It was a great day for the Americans as well, they got to see what top-class hurling was all about. It is going to be very sad to see it go. If you can fit in an International Rules fixture you can surely fit in an inter-provincial fixture as far as I'm concerned."
Gardiner can empathise with the ongoing stand-off in Limerick more than most, but he's too busy enjoying a first uninterrupted league campaign in three years; "I'm just happy it's not us," said the double All-Ireland winner.
After a long overdue winter of content on Leeside, Cork have made the headlines for the right reasons after a successful league campaign that will conclude on Sunday week when they take on Galway in the NHL final.
"I think we did (take the league more seriously)," said Gardiner. "I think we needed to. I suppose we didn't have the benefit of the league over the last couple of years, last year in particular. There is nothing like the league to bring lads on and I think Denis (Walsh) used the league very well this year.
"Our aim at the start of the year was to get to the National League final and we achieved that, so when we are there we will be going out to win it.
"We had a good league campaign and I suppose we found out the importance of the league, we needed the games."