Sponsor says county championship scheduling threatens interprovincials

COMPETITION sponsor Martin Donnelly has admitted he could lose interest in the Interpovincial championships if club fixtures “are not sorted out”.

“Players and managers are enthusiastic and as long as they show that I will be committed,” he said. “But there is a time limit. If in two or three years time we are having this problem again, then maybe we’ll have to look elsewhere to spend our money.’’

So far, it had been an attractive proposition, he said, taking heart from the interest created by last year’s football semi-finals in Parnell Park under lights and the hurling final in Boston, which was a “fantastic occasion”.

Saying that finding a suitable date was a problem, he said that this year in particular, delays in finalising county championship programmes had created added difficulties. Additionally, the fact that the football final is being played (in Boston on October 22) a week before the first International Rules test will further reduce the various managements’ options.

“When I took it over first I knew these problems were there,” he said. “To a degree the competition has been revived, but when something was dead and as neglected as it was, it’s going to take more than three or four years.’’

Meanwhile, Munster football manager Gerald O’Sullivan expressed his regret that Kerry star Kieran Donaghy will not be available for Friday’s floodlit game against Connacht in

Ballyforan, Co Roscommon.

They had hoped to have up to ten of the All-Ireland champions side available, but club commitments, the International Rules Series and Darragh Ó Sé’s wedding on Saturday will limit their options.

“Kieran Donaghy and Colm Cooper are not expected to be available and that’s a pity. If you want to get people out to see the games, they would probably travel anywhere to see the likes of Donaghy,’’ he commented.

Ulster football manager Brian McEniff has had to contend with county finals next Sunday in Tyrone, Derry and Down. Said McEniff: “Val Andrews phoned me a few weeks ago and I told him to have faith, that I was in the very same boat, working with small numbers.’’

Andrews, who was involved with Leinster for the first time last year, credits the players with “resurrecting” the competition.

“The players love the competition. Anybody who can play will and I think we should recognise that. The players are central to the organisation, they give the time, and if they prize the competition we should prize it.”

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