/ GAA

Antrim manager Kevin Ryan says new hurling format 'a disgrace'

Updated: Tuesday, 27 May 2014 21:05 | Comments

Kevin Ryan talks to his Antrim players after the win over Laois
Kevin Ryan talks to his Antrim players after the win over Laois

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Antrim hurling manager Kevin Ryan has issued another strong criticism of the new preliminary round-robin series in this year's Leinster Championship.

The Ulster side, along with Laois, Carlow, Westmeath and London, have taken part in a five-week series of games that began on the 27 April.

The Saffrons have booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Leinster Hurling Championship with Wexford this weekend thanks to a number of wins including surprising Seamus Plunkett's Laois last Sunday.

Ryan believes the new structure will do nothing to develop the standard of hurling in the developing counties.

He told RTÉ Sport: "It's a very tough schedule of four weeks in-a-row and then going into a Leinster quarter-final.

"There is no benefit whatsoever, except probably a bit of momentum from last Sunday. If people had seen that game, if you put the same crowd that was in Thurles (for Cork v Waterford) and the same fanfare around it, it was a very hard, tough and fast game with some great scores in it.

"There are a lot of tired bodies. I think it's a disgrace being honest. It doesn't really give you a chance to prepare for a Leinster quarter-final.

"The only thing we have is momentum in that we've got through some battles and tried to train through it.

"We would have been training hard enough over the last three games and tried to freshen up for Laois. We are lucky we haven't picked up any serious injuries but you have a lot of knocks and bodies trying to recover.”

"It's like you want to get those teams out of the way"

Antrim will target a shock win over the Model County despite their fatigue but even if they progress past them, a semi-final with Dublin will follow on 14 June, just two weeks later.

Ryan continued: "It's like you want to get those teams out of the way.

"The round-robin is designed to get teams out of Liam MacCarthy which they are doing a team each year over the next two years. That's all it is designed for. Ask any of the counties involved if they want to play that. Absolutely not.

“There is Carlow out of championship hurling in the middle of May. How in any manner of means is that doing good for promoting hurling in Carlow? I think it's disgraceful.”

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