Galway Antrim in Leinster C'Ship

GALWAY and Antrim will both play in the Leinster hurling championship next season after a radical vote to amend the structure of the provincial game was passed at a Special Congress in Croke Park on Saturday.

Delegates from Dublin, Offaly and Wexford all spoke out against the proposal, but an 80% yes vote ensured the changes will come into place next year.

The move has been welcomed by GAA President Nickey Brennan, who also confirmed that Leinster Championship games could be played outside the province next season if Galway or Antrim receive home draws.

"This thing has been in the back of my mind for a long number of years, ever since I raised it first within Leinster, and I'm particularly pleased that at long last we have a structure that's good from Antrim and Galway's point of view," said Brennan.

"It is a different championship for the next three years, but what happens after that I wouldn't pre-judge.

"I don't want to tie the hands of my successor, so we will have to wait and see how things pan out. But for the next three years, Galway and Antrim will be playing in Leinster and where those games take place is totally a matter for the Leinster Council."

Antrim manager Terence "Sambo" McNaughton was also delighted with the move.

"It's one of the best days that I've been involved with Antrim hurling," said McNaughton. "I've spoken to some of the players since the news came through and they are also delighted. However, this will not be like flicking a light switch and this will not provide us with a solution to all of our ills and problems.

"The real work begins now and I will understand some of the reservations expressed by counties like Offaly and Wexford."

Rules Team

IRELAND boss Sean Boylan has named a 27 man squad, captained by Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh, for the Compromise Rules series against Australia later this month.

All-Ireland finalists Tyrone and Kerry have four players each in the squad, which also includes former Laois player Colm Begley, now with the Brisbane Lions.

The first Test will be played in Perth on October 24, with the second Test fixed for Melbourne on October 31.

The Irish squad is: Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone), Graham Canty (Cork), David Gallagher (Meath), Colm Begley (Brisbane Lions/Laois), Paddy Bradley (Derry), Bernard Brogan (Dublin), Benny Coulter (Down), Bryan Cullen (Dublin), Kieran Donaghy (Kerry), Leighton Glynn (Wicklow), Finian Hanley (Galway), John Keane (Westmeath), Aaron Kernan (Armagh), Ciaran Lyng (Wexford), Steven McDonnell (Armagh), Enda McGinley (Tyrone), Ciarn McKeever (Armagh), Joe McMahon (Tyrone), Justin McMahon (Tyrone), Michael Meehan (Galway), John Miskella (Cork), Aidan O'Mahony (Kerry), Pearse O'Neill (Cork), Tom Parsons (Mayo), Kevin Reilly (Meath), Tommy Walsh (Kerry), Killian Young (Kerry).

Standby: Aidan Carr (Down), Ronan Clarke (Armagh), Paul Finlay (Monaghan), Conor Gormley (Tyrone), Kevin McCloy (Derry), Martin McGrath (Fermanagh).

Lohan Retires

ALL-Ireland winning legend Frank Lohan has announced his retirement from the Clare senior hurling squad.

The 33-year-old was on the McCarthy Cup winning team back in 1995 but has decided to quit after making a successful comeback this season.

"I'm glad I came back for 2008 because the previous year had gone so bad," said Lohan. "We recovered ground this year. We were disappointed with the way we played against Tipperary in the Munster final and we felt we should have beaten Cork. But at least our stock is higher than it was."

Fellow Clare hero Niall Gilligan is also considering his future with the county team. "My mind isn't made up completely yet but I'm thinking that way," Gilligan declared.

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