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Bredagh boss calls for Championship revamp

Bredagh dual star Donal Hughes will be available for Sunday’s Down Intermediate Hurling Championship final against South Belfast rivals Carryduff in Newcastle Bredagh dual star Donal Hughes will be available for Sunday’s Down Intermediate Hurling Championship final against South Belfast rivals Carryduff in Newcastle
By Paddy Tierney

Down Intermediate Hurling Championship Final
Bredagh v Carryduff (Sunday, 3.15pm, Newcastle)

BREDAGH hurling manager Simon Wilson has reiterated his call for the format of the Down Intermediate Championship to be changed ahead of Sunday’s decider against Carryduff at St Patrick’s Park.

The South Belfast rivals meet for the second time in the competition with Bredagh winning their round-robin game 1-18 to 1-8 in Bright last month.

Both teams also defeated Clonduff, the only other side in the Intermediate grade, to set up a rematch in the 2019 Intermediate decider.

Down GAA bosses introduced the format last year and, after two years, Wilson believes the structure of the competition needs looked at once again.

“Carryduff put Clonduff away and then we beat Carryduff by 10 – I fancied our chances against Clonduff so I suspected we would be meeting Carryduff again in the final,” said Wilson.

“This will be the fourth time we’ve played Carryduff this year between the Antrim league and Championship. You also have a lot of our boys playing in the Down league so they will be playing Carryduff for the sixth time this Sunday.

“I think there has to be a different way of doing it. As I’ve said before, I don’t agree with the round robin.

“Maybe play the Intermediate and Junior together on a league basis with the top two playing in the Intermediate final and the next two playing in the Junior final or something like that. I’m not sure what way you could work it, but there has to be a better way. At the minute, we play three games and two against the same team.

“That other way, you’ve have Clonduff, Kilclief, Castlewellan, Warrenpoint, Newry (Shamrocks), Ballela, ourselves and Carryduff – maybe two groups of four?

“To me it would be good for Down hurling in general and make the Championships more competitive.”

Bredagh and Carryduff’s are also dual clubs, competing in the Down Senior Football Championship, and that could prove problematic when it comes to finding time for extra hurling Championship fixtures, but Wilson countered: “There is a period when the Antrim leagues come to a standstill because they want the players for the Joe McDonagh Cup.

“That, obviously, doesn’t affect Bredagh or Carryduff. Maybe there is something that could be done around that time of the year?”

Having already secured a fairly comprehensive victory over their neighbours in the round-robin, Bredagh must do it all over again as they bid to go one better than last year when they lost out to Liatroim in the Intermediate decider.

Wilson feels that, despite their 10-point win over Carryduff, his side have more to give ahead of Sunday’s final.

“It is hard one, it is all about getting them in the right frame of mind,” said the Bredagh boss.

“They have to forget about what happened the last day out against Carryduff.

“If we apply ourselves the way we did, I’ll be happy. We are now working on getting that mentality right because it would be very easy to slip into complacency.

“We weren’t good the last day against Carryduff. We played well in the second half, but we completely switched off in the first half. We were missing a few players, but we fielded as strong a team as we could – I believe in trying to win every game and that’s how we approached it.”

Sean McGourty missed the wins over Carryduff and Clonduff with a shoulder injury, but returned to training this week while Niall McFarland has the same injury. A calf strain has placed Ian Galway’s participation in doubt, but Bredagh’s chances have been greatly boosted by the availability of Donal Hughes, who is based in London.

Carryduff also have their fair share of injury worries with dual star Ronan Beattie aggravating a knee injury during last Sunday’s Down SFC defeat to Clonduff.

Beattie is rated as extremely doubtful by manager Chris Clarke while Owen Maguire (hamstring injury), Owen McConville (holiday) and Niall McArdle (suspension) are definitely out.

Clarke also shared his Bredagh counterpart’s reservations about the Championship format, commenting: “I’m not really a fan of it. I know there are only three teams in the Intermediate, so it is hard to know what way to work it.

“You really need four teams in the competition. I think the round-robin format isn’t ideal and there’s a massive gap between the games as well. We are used to playing on Wednesdays and Sundays in the Antrim league so I’d prefer if the Championship was run off in a shorter timeframe.”

After last month’s 10-point defeat to Bredagh, Clarke is fully aware that his men face an uphill battle to turn the tables on their nearest rivals, but he is hopeful of a better performance on Sunday.

“We were well beaten in the second half against Bredagh,” added Clarke.

“We were winning at half-time, but they came out and overturned us. They were the better team on the day – these things happen. I wasn’t happy without our overall workrate and the boys weren’t happy with their performance.

“You can’t play well all of time and Bredagh just seemed to get on top of us at in the second half. We’ll be hoping to change that this time around and get a different result.”

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