Queen’s ditches cup as counties ‘refuse to play by rules’

Queen’s University Belfast and University of Ulster Jordanstown have called on the Ulster Council to enforce the rules of the McKenna Cup and give the universities their county players.

Queen’s pulled out of the 2013 competition yesterday blaming counties who refused to follow the competition’s regulations.

“The club were hoping for some resolution to the ongoing issue in relation to the availability of college players to their university, but this hasn’t happened,” a statement read.

“Participation at this stage would involve the loss of a significant number of first team players to counties and added to injury and exam pressures, we don’t think anyone could expect a university team to play at this level without so many players.

“Furthermore, the prospect of heavy losses would do little for morale and preparation ahead of the Sigerson Cup competition. We are very disappointed that the competition regulations have not been adhered to. It seems clear that some counties refused to restructure their panels in line with competition regulations.

“At all times we have been open and available to talk and negotiate with the county managers. We are disappointed that this openness to discussion has not been reciprocated by particular counties. Like UUJ and St Mary’s, we were privileged to be asked to join the McKenna Cup back in 2003. We believe that decision by Comhairle Uladh rejuvenated the competition and added a new dimension.”

UUJ have committed to playing in this year’s competition despite losing eight players but have called on the Ulster Council to back the universities by enforcing the rules in future.

Their statement read: “We believe our argument is best served from within and will work for an agreed future solution. It is a great privilege to play in the McKenna Cup and affords the opportunity to many third level players to play on theinter-county stage who may not otherwise get the chance to do so.”

The Ulster Council, while dismayed with QUB’s decision, have vowed that the tournament will go ahead.

“We are disappointed that this course of action has been taken,” a statement read. “Comhairle Uladh can confirm that there were five players named on both the Queen’s University panel and a county panel, with the players being placed in an unfortunate position.

“The Power NI Dr McKenna Cup will commence on Sunday, January 6 and we look forward to another competitive event to start the new year.”


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