The fixture schedule must be dealt with – John Martin
CAN THE fixture-makers in Antrim – north, south and south-west – please get round a table and sort out the fixtures chaos inflicted on the county’s most talented minors year after year?
That’s the straightforward question from Saffron minor manager Sambo McNaughton who is struggling to find just one night a week to get his squad together for training.
McNaughton was in charge of the Antrim minor side alongside Dominic McKinley back in 2005 and 2006. They lost All-Ireland quarter-finals by a couple of points to Limerick and Galway in those years, but perhaps more importantly for Antrim hurling, those players now backbone the current senior squad.
A total of 12 players from Sambo and Woody’s 2005-06 minors are in Jerry Wallace’s 2012 championship squad and McNaughton is convinced that the current squad are just as good as the crop that produced Neil McManus, Cormac Donnelly, Neal McAuley and Eddie McCloskey amongst others.
That is, however, if he can get them together to put in the necessary preparation for a successful Ulster and All-Ireland campaign. And at the moment that’s not looking particularly likely.
The problem is that all the talented minor hurlers are also playing for their club’s senior side, aside from the bigger clubs. The same player is also likely to be playing for his club’s u-21 side and at the minute is in the middle of the Antrim championship in that grade.
For south Antrim and south west Antrim players, they are also likely to be talented footballers, so as well as the club’s minor football team, he will also be playing for the club’s senior football team, bringing the total so far to six, including the county minor side.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday May 17. Buy your copy now online, by clicking the subscribe button, or in your local newsagent