Meath put foot Down over re-fixture

MEATH senior hurling manager John Hunt has refused to play Sunday’s re-arranged NHL Division 2 Group 1 tie against Down in Portaferry.

The fixture was to be played last weekend but Meath were unable to reach the venue after their ferry crossing from Strangford was suspended due to fog. Now the game has been re-fixed for the weekend and Hunt is angered by the decision.

"I've told Croke Park, we will not play in Portaferry on Sunday. We have an U21 Leinster championship game on Saturday evening in Navan against Kildare. If we win that game, we're playing again on Wednesday. Fourteen of that U21 panel are on the senior panel. I am not going to ask them to get up at around 5am on Sunday to travel to Portaferry," Hunt said.

"Additionally, I've got a number of phone calls this week, two guards, for example, in Dublin, who managed to get last weekend off, can't get Sunday off, because of the May Day protests.

"When you add in those who have been out for several weeks with injuries, that would leave me with eight of my 30-man panel available for that game. It's been a crisis situation for us, for the last several weeks with all the injuries. But it's a bigger crisis now.

"We were given two options, 12.30pm or 5.30pm in Portaferry, whichever suits us. Unfortunately, neither does, and I'm digging my heels in. I consider myself a reasonable person, but we're getting nothing from these people in Croke Park, or in the Leinster Council, absolutely blank.

"The Down footballers are playing the Division 2 NFL final on Sunday and we've asked the hurlers to travel down to Navan, we'd play them here, and they could then travel on to Croke Park, if they wished. They have refused point blank," he said.

"Everything we suggested has been shot down moving the U21 match to Monday, the senior game to Saturday, no way, we were told, everything is written in stone," he added.

Six of the seven Waterford SHC first round games at the weekend have been postponed due to the Allianz NHL final against Galway on May 9.

A request from the county selectors to have the games deferred was acceded to by the county board executive. The meeting of Fourmilewater and Roanmore at Fraher Field, Dungarvan, will be played on Sunday.

"Given that virtually every member of the county panel would be involved in the club games, we believe it is reasonable to call them off so close to the league final," county chairman Paddy Joe Ryan said.

With Waterford also in first round Munster SHC action against Clare on May 16, the earliest the club games can go ahead is the weekend of May 22/23.

Meanwhile, Waterford make three changes from the team which lost to Cork for tonight's Munster MHC clash with Clare in Thurles.

John Morrissey replaces Michael Gaffney at right corner-back; Mathew Prendergast comes in for Sean Lawlor at centre-forward, while Paul Murray is preferred to John Gorman at right corner-forward. A positional switch sees John Quirke move to full-forward with Mark Gorman in the left corner.

There is one change on the Clare side from the team which defeated Kerry in the last round. Clonlara's Pat O'Hare replaces Mark O'Flaherty at right half-back. The winners meet Tipperary in the semi-final on May 13. Cork and Limerick meet in the second semi-final the previous night.

WATERFORD (MH v Clare): D Ryan (Mount Sion); J Morrissey (St Patrick's), J Seward (Clashmore), D Heffernan; J Mullen (Abbeyside), J Kindregan, (do), T Power (Ballygunner); J Nagle (Dungarvan), K Moran (De La Salle); M Hoban (Mount Sion), M Prendergast (Lismore), M Fives (Abbeyside); P Murray (Cappoquin), J Quirke (De La Salle), M Gorman (Abbeyside).

CLARE (MH v Waterford): S Murphy (Cratloe); A Quilligan (Sixmilebridge), I O'Halloran (Smith O'Briens), A Kilmartin (Newmarket-on-Fergus); P O'Hare (Clonlara), J McInerney (Newmarket-on-Fergus), P Lynch (Tulla); J Clancy (Clarecastle), K Sheehan (Ballyea); S O'Brien (Smith O'Briens), D O'Halloran (Tulla), D Browne (Cratloe); B Gaffney (Newmarket-on-Fergus), D Barrett (do), D O'Donoghue (Tubber).

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