Queen's withdraw from McKenna Cup
The Ulster Council have opted against the redrawing of the Dr McKenna Cup, despite the withdrawal of Queen’s University.
All four provinces get their pre-season football competitions underway this weekend, and, as in recent years, the conflict between college and county commitments has not escaped some controversy.
Agreeing on who gets first call on players, the college or county, has never been easy, and Queen’s claimed that without their full panel of players there was no way of being competitive against the county teams: with no guarantee of that they thus withdrew.
Queen’s were due to play Armagh this Sunday, but instead the Dr McKenna Cup with be run off with two groups of four teams, and one of three, with the group winners, and the best runners-up going through to the semi-finals.
All-Ireland champions Donegal got an extension to next Wednesday evening for their opening game against Fermanagh, as they’re currently on a team holiday in Dubai.
In Connacht, third level colleges have first call on the first three players from any given county, while in Leinster college teams traditionally get first call on players for the O’Byrne Cup, which begins on Sunday in the new round-robin, league format.
New Dublin manager Jim Gavin has said he has no problem with the colleges having first option on the players, but that overall demands did need to be looked at it: “Having so many competitions at this time of year, in terms of player welfare, it wouldn’t be the way I’d do business.”
The 2013 O’Byrne Cup includes five college teams (DCU, UCD, DIT, IT Carlow and Athlone IT), plus 11 counties (the one exception being Kilkenny), the new league structure resulting in 27 games before the final, on January 27th. There will also be a full round of floodlit fixtures next Wednesday evening, all around the province.
Finally, Leitrim footballers have received a massive boost ahead of the new season with promising Kildare footballer Cian Reynolds opting to transfer to his father’s native county but he will play for Carlow IT in the O’Byrne Cup.