TO say Willie Sunderland was ‘angered’ by Saturday’s single-point Christy Ring Cup defeat to Derry in Celtic Park would be stating the obvious. What wasn’t obvious though was the subject of his ire.
It wasn’t the Lilywhite players who had toiled manfully for 70 minutes despite not producing anything like the form that had carried them to the Division 2B league title and who, in half-forward Mark Moloney and Irish Shinty ‘keeper Paul Dermody, had two of the game’s top performers. No, what began as a general complaint into a free count which, at 22-9, was unduly stacked in Derry’s favour continued into a damning indictment of not only Antrim referee Garrett Duffy and his own County Board but also the promotion of hurling in general.
Sunderland didn’t mix his words in the aftermath of a game which, following a bright start by the visitors, Derry always looked in control of despite a brave late fightback which could have brought extra-time.
“We are stamped on every time we put our heads above the parapet, inside and outside the county,” claimed the Kildare manager.
“I’m not crying but how anyone could win a match in those circumstances, I don’t know. To have the day that the referee had is unbelievable. That’s not excusing the fact that Kildare didn’t play as well as they can, not by a long shot, but any time we got a bit of momentum, it’s a free. Twenty-two frees to nine just beggars belief. We had no chance.
“To me, this competition, the Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher, they’re just frowned upon, honestly. They play it off in four or five weeks, it’s home and away. Why not play the games at a neutral venue? We train as hard as anyone else for this day, we come up here today to have that refereeing. Jesus, no. If teams prepare properly, are they not entitled to proper officialdom? I think they are,” he added.