Shamrock Rovers: beat Drogheda United to win the Setanta Sports Cup in May. INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Setanta Cup

Setanta Sports Cup to go ahead despite northern withdrawals

Cliftonville and Linfield pull out of the 2014 tournament with concerns over timing and prize money.

THE SETANTA SPORTS CUP will go ahead next season without Cliftonville and Linfield.

The two Northern Irish clubs have pulled out of the tournament because of concerns over its timing and prize money.

Organisers moved quickly to assure the cross-border competition’s future and announced a new three-year deal with title sponsors Setanta Sports.

As the next best eligible teams, Ballinamallard United and Coleraine will take the two vacant places in the 2014 draw which takes place on Wednesday in Dublin.

The all-Ireland cup has taken place between February and May for the last three seasons.

It ties in with the beginning of the Airtricity League’s “summer football” season but adds additional games and travel just as the domestic competitions in Northern Ireland are reaching their peak.

Cliftonville, the reigning Danske Bank Premiership champions, said: “Amid an already heavy footballing schedule which began with the Champions League in July, we have decided not to take up the invitation this season.

We have enjoyed being part or the tournament in previous years and do not rule out our possible participation in the future.

Linfield, who won the inaugural tournament in 2005, said that they would also consider participating in future seasons but that the league remains their priority.

“The scheduling of the Setanta Sports Cup games in the springtime when teams from Northern Ireland are approaching the closing stages of their domestic league and Irish cup competitions tends to be less favourable to clubs in the Danske Bank Premiership and this club will always prioritise the League title as the prime target and focus in every season.

With a much reduced prize fund available to clubs competing in the Setanta Sports Cup and also taking into account the considerable difficulties faced by our supporters travelling to attend these games, the Linfield Board of Directors has, on this occasion, taken the decision not to enter the 2014 Setanta Sports Cup competition.”

Defending champions Shamrock Rovers will be joined by 2013′s Airtricity League winners St Pat’s, runners-up Dundalk and FAI Cup winners Sligo Rovers in Wednesday’s draw.

Crusaders and Glentoran will be the Irish League’s other representatives.

Celtic ban 128 fans and close Green Brigade Section

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.