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Knockout blow for Setanta Cup following fixtures impasse

By Graham Luney

Published 14/05/2015

Better days: Stephen Baxter with the Setanta Cup in 2012
Better days: Stephen Baxter with the Setanta Cup in 2012

Setanta Cup organisers will make a fresh attempt to revive the competition in 2016 even though this year's tournament has hit the rocks.

The all-Ireland tournament never recovered from a fixtures headache this month and has now been shelved.

Appetite for the cross-border competition has dwindled over the years with Irish League clubs claiming that scheduling favours southern sides. Linfield and Cliftonville have declined invitations to take part and there must be serious doubts that the competition will ever re-emerge.

Irish League clubs had voiced concerns over potential Monday and midweek games and the travelling involved, while Saturday matches would have been more appealing.

When the quarter-finals draw was postponed the grim writing was on the wall and Chairman of the Setanta Sports Cup committee, Milo Corcoran, admitted a fresh approach was needed.

"Over recent months, we have been trying to find dates that can work for the broadcaster, the IFA clubs and the FAI clubs," he said.

"Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, it has not been possible to do so, even if I felt we were close to achieving agreement with all of the clubs required at one stage. Despite the setback, it is my hope that with time over the coming year, we will find a solution in 2016."

Glenavon, 2012 winners Crusaders, Glentoran and Portadown were scheduled to face League of Ireland quartet Dundalk, St Patrick's Athletic, Cork City and Shamrock Rovers in the quarter-finals.

Crusaders commercial manager Norman Coleman said: "The Setanta Cup is a great competition with good prize money but it must be played on Saturdays."

Belfast Telegraph

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