GAA

Mickey Harte Gets It Spot On About Plight Of Antrim GAA

Mickey Harte Gets It Spot On About Plight Of Antrim GAA

Tyrone eased past Antrim into the semi-finals of the Ulster Championship with a comprehensive 14-point win on Saturday night.

The game was down as a home match for Antrim. However, the Casement Park saga, one which has seen the home of Antrim GAA shuttered since 2013, meant last night's encounter was played at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.

Casement Park has been long due for redevelopment. However, that became mired in the planning process and has been further stalled by the lack of a Northern Ireland Executive.

The nomadic status of the Antrim footballers, along with the need for the GAA to further invest in the county, was highlighted by Tyrone manager Mickey Harte following Saturday's game.

"Antrim need to be considered as a team who can be doing much better than they're doing at the minute," Harte told BBC Northern Ireland.

Obviously, not having a home ground is not good for them. They haven't been able to play their home matches at home. They haven't got that sense of place that they can identify with. There's a lot of work that needs to be done; get the Casement Park thing sorted out number one.

Secondly, there was lots of assistance put into Dublin to improve the GAA situation in Dublin over the last number of years. A similar injection into Belfast and the county as a whole would bring Antrim up to the level that they ought to be at.

During last night's game, Antrim GAA tweeted a video of Casement Park, its pitch overgrown with weeds.

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Speaking to Balls earlier this year, Antrim hurler Neil McManus lamented that the ground was closed down in the first place.

"The decision to close it at the time," said McManus, "obviously without having planning permission secured, was not the smartest move that Antrim GAA have made and it’s cost us millions of pounds; cost us our home as well.

"We are currently playing games in Cushendall, Ballycastle, St. John’s Corrigan Park, Belfast and teams come to play and they are probably as familiar with the pitch as many of the Antrim players. You’ve got no advantage really which isn’t good enough.

"The old Casement was decrepit, it was damp, cold... brilliant like. I remember leaving it one day and one of the Offaly players absolutely hated the place and I thought, 'brilliant' because it was home - ‘welcome to the jungle’ - we played in that because it was useful to us."

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PJ Browne
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