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Ciaran Clarke wants to see an Ulster hurling championship played again

“I’d be all for it coming back if it was in the calendar mid-year.”

Antrim hurler Ciaran Clarke was named PWC GPA/GAA Player of the Month for May. Clarke had starred in the Ulster side’s victory over Clare in May.

Darren Gleeson’s charges made a very impressive start to the league, as the 2020 Joe McDonagh champions beat Clare and drew with Wexford.

Clarke’s side are set to compete in the 2021 Leinster hurling championship and there has not been an Ulster championship played since 2017.

Ciaran Clarke Ulster

Antrim totally dominated the Ulster hurling championship.

It had almost become like the Leinster football championship, as Antrim won 16 successive Ulster titles before the competition was stopped four years ago.

Ballycastle McQuillan star Clarke would welcome a return of the competition if it was given a proper timeslot in the season.

“The way the Ulster Hurling Championship was played in other years, it was nearly played after your year was finished.

“If you could fit the Ulster Championship in the middle of the year when everyone is still training and still, in the middle of the season,” Clarke said.

“The way it was played before was it was at the end of the year, and probably panels that broke up. So it was hard to get the motivation there to play it. But yeah, I’d be all for it coming back if it was in the calendar mid-year.”

Ciaran Clarke Ulster

Ciaran Clarke wants Casement Park to reopen.

Clarke would love to see Casement Park host Antrim matches as the iconic West Belfast stadium has been closed since 2013.

Antrim have no home venue at present and rotate their games between different grounds across the county.

“Whenever I was growing up you were going to your big Antrim games there (Casement) and having the big crowds there,” he said.

“For the younger generation, it plays a big part that they can see their county team, and the other county teams, coming there.

“It gives them inspiration of where they want to be, progress from underage up to senior, it gives you a pathway.

“You need somewhere you can permanently call home and somewhere you can try to make it tough for teams coming up, make teams not want to come to Casement Park.

“Because at the minute, we’re playing at Corrigan this year, a few years ago we played at Ballycastle, Cushendall too.

“So we didn’t or don’t really have a home venue or a place we call home, so it’s vitally important for that as well.”

Ciaran Clarke Ulster

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