Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Joe Kernan: Big crowd proves inter-pros have backing

It's not often that a match staged within five days of being fixed draws a crowd of 3,000 in the current economic climate.

But that’s what happened when the Ulster v Munster Railway Cup football final was played in Armagh on Sunday.

The match was confirmed on the Tuesday prior to the game and the Ulster Council implemented a vigorous marketing strategy that certainly paid dividends.

And to say that the fans got value for money would be an understatement. The game proved a thriller with Ulster just winning out in the end having looked to have surrendered the initiative to the visitors at one stage.

The occasion proved that there is still scope for the inter-provincial football championship and now I feel it is up to the GAA authorities to find perhaps a more suitable date for the semi-finals and final in the fixtures calendar.

The crowd at the Morgan Athletic Grounds on Sunday was in sharp contrast to that at the Sigerson Cup final which I believe was in the region of 500.

I know that the Sigerson really only has allure for the participating counties and that it’s spectator appeal is limited, yet it is never mentioned in quite the same native tones as the Railway Cup.

Although Ulster won the trophy, for me one of the most satisfying aspects of the final was the performance of the Munster full-forward line.

Here we had three players — David Tubridy (Clare), Gary Hurney (Waterford) and Ian Ryan (Limerick) — possessed class and flair and who got the opportunity to perform on a higher stage. Tubridy in particular showed that he is a class act by swooping for seven points and underlining his ability as a truly talented forward.

That is the essence of the Railway Cup — gives players from all counties the chance to merge with each other for the good of their province.

I am well aware that there are rumblings of discontent about the competition within the higher echelons of the GAA but I trust a more positive mood will prevail and that the competition will continue to thrive.

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