TERENCE McNAUGHTON is not concerned about political opposition to the Casement Park project — because he fully expected it.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson expressed concerns about the cost of Casement’s rebuild after its inclusion on the Euro 2028 grounds list.
He estimated that it could cost anything up to £200million to build a brand new 34,000-capacity home for Antrim GAA.
And with Northern Ireland facing a budget crisis, Donaldson suggested that his party may veto any extra government cash that is funnelled towards it.
But speaking at the launch of this year’s Hurling/Shinty international game on October 21, Antrim great ‘Sambo’ McNaughton made light of Donaldson’s comments.
It has been suggested that Donaldson could ultimately hold up the works but McNaughton is adamant that ‘he can’t have a veto’.
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The Saffrons legend said: “Jeffrey Donaldson came out and said he’s going to veto it but then again, in the real world, what else is Jeffrey Donaldson going to say?
“He has to say that. He has no option. If he came out and said he backed Casement, just think of the reaction he would get there.
“These people are asked these questions and everybody knows the answer he’s going to give anyway.
“It goes on and on, you’re talking to the same people and you know what they’re going to say before they open their mouth. That’s just the way of it.”
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Redevelopment of Casement Park was first proposed in 2009 but the project has been plagued by funding and planning issues.
Ex-Antrim player and manager McNaughton says building it is a ‘no-brainer’ at this stage and reckons the Euro 2028 angle will finally ‘kick it over the line’.
On the political concerns, McNaughton said: “I don’t get the logic of it.
“Like, the whole of Ireland is going to be sitting down on Saturday night to cheer on our rugby team.
“I don’t know much about rugby but I can tell you one thing, I want to see them do well.
“It’s the same with the Irish ladies’ soccer team, or whoever else it is.
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“Sport is sport and it’s a way for things and for people to be inclusive because 99 per cent of people just want to get on with their lives.
“You might like to go to Casement Park to watch Bruce Springsteen, there’s that side to it too.
“We need a good stadium because we don’t have one that can hold over 30,000 people.
“Rugby got their stadium, soccer got theirs and Casement Park is going to be there now for us.
“It’s going to be our home again, for Antrim GAA. We need our base back, we need our home back.
“It’s a massive thing for us. I couldn’t believe the other day when I was told how long it’s going on.
“Even now, still, listening to all the talk on the radio, there’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes.
“But it looks like it’s going to get done. It needs to be done. We need it badly.
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“We need a home. It’s a must, a no-brainer.
“And I’m glad it’s got the soccer thing because that will probably kick it over the line.”