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'We're arch-rivals on the field but we were united in the meeting rooms'

Clonkill and Raharney refused to field teams in Sunday’s Westmeath minor hurling final.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THERE WERE BIZARRE scenes at Cusack Park in Mullingar yesterday when Clonkill and Raharney boycotted the Westmeath minor hurling final.

Both clubs were united in their quest for a postponement of the game – given the involvement of a number of players in the senior game that followed between the clubs, won by Clonkill.

That request was rejected by county board chiefs, and it’s understood that the Lake County’s minor board will now refix the game, possibly for next weekend.

As newly-crowned senior champions, Clonkill are due to compete in the Leinster championship on Sunday week, 1 November, and with the Bank Holiday weekend coming up, there is time to slot in the minor fixture.

“We felt that common sense would prevail,” Raharney chairman Billy Boyle told The42 this afternoon.

“We believe the game will be refixed and we hope that it will in the interest of harmony with county teams and everything else.

Clonkill panel Clonkill's senior panel (file photo). Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“As clubs, we’re arch-rivals on the field but we were united in the meeting rooms on this one.

“I presume there will be a minor board meeting this week and that will hopefully refix the game.”

Raharney booked their place in the final with victories over Castlepollard and Castletown Geoghegan but they had to play two games in the space of a few days to do so.

And with a total of five minor players from both sides who featured in the senior final on Sunday, Clonkill and Raharney pulled rank and refused to field.

Boyle, however, is disappointed if neutrals travelled for the minor game and had a wasted journey.

“It was annoying me on Saturday,” he said. “We knew there was no game but how many others believed that?

“The fixture looked like it was going ahead, it was on the programme and the paper, and I’d be thinking of people from South Westmeath who didn’t know.

“If somebody from Kilbeggan got in their car to go to the game, there was no way of knowing that it wasn’t on unless they rang me or somebody else involved.

“It’s funny, you’re at it all year and here we are weeks out from Christmas and it’s a pity it has to happen at the one time.

Robbie Greville and Paudie O'Brien Robbie Greville played for Raharney in the senior final.

“The championship drags on for too long in my opinion.

“We were lucky that we had a fine day yesterday but we were training in Longwood in Meath under lights for the last three weeks with the senior team.

“We don’t have lights so we had to go to the neighbouring county.”

Boyle says that the common sense approach, which he insists was the way forward in the first place, is to now run off the minor final next weekend. 

“From Clonkill’s point of view, they’re tied up on Sunday week with the (Leinster) club championship but we have a big chance next weekend – you could have it on Saturday, Sunday or Monday.”

Raharney had two minor players who started the senior game yesterday, and another came on as sub who had also been used in the semi-final and other rounds of the competition.

“Clonkill didn’t start any of them (minors) in the semi-final but they had one started in the final, and another came on as sub,” Boyle explained.

“In all, five minors played yesterday.”

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