Corcoran stays confident Setanta Cup has viable future after late reprieve

Milo Corcoran, chairman of the Setanta Sports Cup organising committee, is adamant the cross-border competition has a future after its 11th hour reprieve.

The former president of the FAI, and current board member, admitted at yesterday’s quarter-final draw for the 2014 instalment that the viability of the eight-year event was in jeopardy just two months ago.

Setanta had last year flagged their intention to relinquish their main sponsorship, but efforts by the FAI and IFA to secure a replacement backer proved fruitless. Adding questions to the continuation of the competition was the withdrawal on Monday of half of Northern Ireland’s four representatives — Linfield and Cliftonville.

Of the two clubs, Corcoran revealed he was less surprised by the refusal to participate by Linfield, given they’ve aired reservations about over recent years.

The duo were swiftly replaced by the next eligible teams from the North, Crusaders and Ballinamallard United, in time for yesterday’s draw at Aviva Stadium.

“Every year we’ve had a little bit of trouble answering questions from Linfield,” said Corcoran.

“It is disappointing because you would like to have the clubs, Cliftonville and Linfield, involved but it gives Ballinamallard a chance. When the football starts in February, we won’t talk about Linfield.

“The competition was very close to being in danger in September when we didn’t have a sponsor. Both commercial departments had a deadline to get a sponsor by the middle of September, and that went on to the end of September.

“It put our dates up the creek. But when a certain company didn’t cross the line, then Setanta returned to the table for talks and we’re grateful for their support. By October, we had everything sorted.”

Yesterday’s draw sees holders Shamrock Rovers meet Irish Cup winners Glentoran, while newcomers League of Ireland champions St Patrick’s Athletic were satisfied to be facing newcomers Ballinamallard.

Sligo Rovers were drawn against Crusaders, while Dundalk go up against Coleraine.

The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played on Monday, February 24 and the return fixtures scheduled for Monday, March 10.

Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers will likely discover today if they’ll have a reserve team in next season’s First Division. They meet the FAI today though the concept of the biggest club in Ireland fielding a second team to complete an eight-team second tier has received a mixed reaction.

Elsewhere former Hoops striker Mark Quigley is expected to finalise his move to St Pat’s over the next 48 hours. The 2012 Player of the Year had his Rovers contract cancelled by mutual consent following a disagreement with boss Trevor Croly and is now set to join their biggest rivals despite competition from Sligo and Dundalk.

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