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'Do we really need universities in the McKenna Cup?' - Armagh assistant manager

Jim McCorry says that college teams are struggling to compete in the pre-season competition.

ARMAGH ASSISTANT MANAGER Jim McCorry has questioned whether university football teams should continue to participate in the Dr McKenna Cup, arguing that they are struggling to compete against county teams.

Kieran McGeeney and Jim McCorry Jim McCorry standing alongside Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ulster University Jordanstown [UUJ], St Mary’s University and Queen’s University Belfast are the three college teams currently competing in this pre-season competition and McCorry is concerned by the one-sided results in some of the games.

Armagh scored a comfortable 6-17 to 1-7 victory over St Mary’s in their opening Dr McKenna Cup tie last month while Donegal had 10 points to spare in their win over Queen’s.

UUJ did manage to come away with a draw against Fermanagh, but McCorry argues that perhaps county teams and college teams should no longer be in the same competition.

“Do we really need the universities in the McKenna Cup?” he said in an interview with the Irish News.

With the greatest respect to them, they might get the odd draw or win but they are heavily beaten in other games.

“A lot of players want to be playing for their county because that’s what they want to do longer term. But then managers are having to discuss with the colleges over players.”

Hurling and football college teams use these pre-season provincial tournaments to fit in some tough matches to help with their Fitzgibbon Cup [hurling] and Sigerson Cup [football] preparations.

However, McCorry says that the college teams would benefit more from the fixture calendar being adjusted rather than staying in a competition like the Dr McKenna Cup.

Ronan McNabb with Stephen McConville and Oisin O'Neill Tyrone's Ronan McNabb in action against St Mary's during the 2018 Dr McKenna Cup. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

“The key point here is if Sigerson took place after the Ryan Cup that concludes the universities’ seasons [before Christmas] and allows the players to get on with their studies and county football would be able to get on without conflict [over players] trying to serve different masters.

“Certainly there are debates every year over players availability.”

Universities might not be happy as they like the McKenna Cup for their Sigerson Cup preparations but you’ve got to ask yourself the worth to both [county and university]?

“It’s about trying to get the calendar right but that has never been properly addressed… The new rules are occupying people at the minute and the calendar hasn’t got as much focus.

“The calendar is probably one of the most important things that needs to be sorted out.”

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne look back on a memorable year for Irish rugby.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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