Munster Interprovincial football manager Ger O’Sullivan is adamant his team stand a great chance of beating Ulster in Sunday’s semi-final despite four of the province’s six counties being Division 4 teams.
In a repeat of last year’sdecider, the former Cork selector will again lead the province in Armagh’s Athletic Grounds, 12 months after they lost out to the northerners by two points. Based on National League standings, O’Sullivan appears to have the poorest pick but he refutes the idea that he is at a disadvantage.
After shocking Leinster in Parnell Park last year, he is happy with his panel even though he feels they have lost their surprise element after frightening Ulster last year.
“Maybe other teams don’t give enough respect to players from the lower divisions. What I found is that the players we have from Division 4 would get on any Division 1 team in the country.
“We would be very happy with the type of players we have. The one thing about those players is that they love playing this competition.”
O’Sullivan and his selectors, Limerick manager Maurice Horan and Kerry’s Ger O’Keeffe, put the final touches to the panel at training last night. Last year’s captain Tomás Ó Sé is unavailable along with Graham Canty, Alan Quirke, Ian Ryan, Patrick Kelly, Johnny McCarthy and David Tubridy, for a variety of reasons.
As Cork are defending provincial champions, one of the six players on the panel will be appointed skipper.
Tipperary will have representatives on the bus to Armagh after last year making themselves unavailable to O’Sullivan, who says four or five of the 2012 team will play again on Sunday.
“We have different representation for all the different counties to what we had last year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Interprovincial series sponsor Martin Donnelly said the new three-year initiative with Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin couldn’t have come at a better time for the competition.
“I know Liam [O’Neill] set up a committee and they worked very hard at finding a date and really this was the only time they could find.
“I think the fact it is on with the junior club final will add to it. Maybe the time will come when you have the two finals back together on the one date. That would give more reason for people to come out and support it.”
Donnelly, who has sponsored the series since 2001, said he wasn’t going to be the person to let the competition perish.
“Look at Jimmy Smyth who has just died and was a stalwart to Clare who made his name in the Railway Cup. I grew up with it and I always felt there is a niche for it, not like the golden era of the 1940s and 1950s but the players wanted it so I stuck with it. We have been communicating all the time with the Association. If it was going to be killed it wasn’t me that was going to kill it.
“We have been depending on a lot of presidents to support it and create the atmosphere where it can survive and Liam has come up with one of the best ideas that has been mooted since it survived.”
Leinster hurling manager Joe Dooley will have 13 Kilkenny players on for Sunday’s semi-final against Connacht in Tullamore with Brian Hogan captaining the province.
“I never won a Leinster medal as a player but it was nice to win as a manager last year,” said Dooley. “I can remember back when Offaly greats Paddy Molloy and Barney Moylan played for Leinster. It was a huge honour.
“It still is and when guys retire the number of Railway Cup medals they won is always on their list of achievements. It’s not a Mickey Mouse competition.”
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