19 May 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Kevin Carney

The Ulster SFC has started. Last Sunday, Fermanagh enjoyed a sprint start in their victory (1-12 to 0-9) against Antrim. But most observers would concur that the opening game of this year’s provincial championship was sadly more of a false start.

Fermanagh boss Peter McGrath talked after the game about his side having “sleep-walked” their way through the second half against Antrim. Unfortunately, ‘sleep’ was the operative word richocheting around the rafters of Brewster Park’s well-stocked stand.

Those who made their way to the match were the lucky ones for they were at least able to savour the sunny weather, the atmosphere and the bonhomie at the match. For armchair viewers, it was a whole different ball game.

As anyone who has ever played Ulster SFC football will tell you, hot and humid conditions on match day are not ideal; they’re draining, suffocating and can make jelly out of the most honed muscles.

For all that, Antrim and Fermanagh’s finest ought to have produced a better show than that which mildly passed for a blue riband contest last Sunday.
After the promise shown by his adopted county in the NFL and the championship(s) over the last couple of years, the aforementioned McGrath has unashamedly asked his charges to reach for the stars and make history by getting their hands on the Anglo Celt Cup.

Ever the optimist, the Down man must have been disappointed though by the performance and the potential shown by his white and green brigade last weekend.

Meanwhile thoughts among neutrals looking at the game from afar must surely have strayed at times towards the Casement Park project and wondered just what the millions that have been earmarked for its redevelopment by Stormont and Croke Park would do for the development of Gaelic football in our second biggest city.

Dublin is still largely a soccer city but the GAA has made serious in-roads over recent decades in large parts of south Dublin, for instance, in spreading the gospel of Gaelic games and, the fruits are there for all to see in the shape of behemoths such as Kilmacud Crokes, St. Jude’s and Thomas Davis.

The emergence of strong units of the Association in hitherto barren GAA areas of …

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