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Ralph in rage over Setanta shambles

By Chris Holt

It wouldn’t be the Setanta Sports Cup if there wasn't some shambolic element to it and yesterday's draw for this season's competition threw up a bit of confusion and yet more digging in of heels by the organising committee's chairman, Milo Corcoran.

The confusion comes about due to the fact that by Friday, holders Cork City could be no more.

The Leesiders were issued with a winding up order by the High Court on Monday and have until the end of the week to come up with, what amounts to hundreds of thousands of euro to pay the taxman or they will go to the wall.

In the draw, which took place at the FAI's swish new headquarters in Abbottstown, City as last year's winners were seeded, along with the champions from both divisions from last year, namely Linfield and Bohemians.

And that brought about the question; what happens if Cork City cease to be?

Well, according to Corcoran, it's pretty simple: “If it happens, then Cork will be replaced by another team from the south — it will be a straight swap.”

The team believed to be on stand-by is Bray Wanderers.

“If it was a northern team dropping out then a northern team would come in. As it is, it could be a southern team dropping out so a southern team will replace them.”

And no meetings or discussions over it?

“No, we haven't spoken about it but I'd be pretty sure this is how it will pan out,” added Corcoran.

Surely, though, this wouldn't be entirely fair, as a team who most likely finished sixth in the League of Ireland will go straight into a seeded position and with respect to Cliftonville and Sligo Rovers who came out of the hat in Group 1 along with Cork, get a non too shabby draw to go with it.

And why should a southern team go in? Why not a team from the Carling Premiership?

If Cork can’t compete then surely Glentoran, as last year's runners-up, should take their place as a seeded team, handing an extra place to a northern side.

Alas, it seems they are sticking to their guns and Glens chairman Aubry Ralph is a bit baffled himself, even though he is on the organising committee and obviously agrees that his side should take on the seeded spot.

“There were certainly no meetings because I wasn't told,” he said.

“Apparently Cork City have given assurances they will be able to carry on, but I’d have thought that if you didn't have that amount of money on Monday, you aren't likely to have it by Friday.

“And they've said that if Cork go then they will be replaced by a southern team. That shouldn't happen because you are bringing in a team who have finished quite a bit down the league, into a privileged position of being seeded.

“I would have thought that us going in as runners up might well have opened the door for another northern team. That doesn't appear to have been considered. The draw's been made now so there's not a lot we can do.”

Glentoran were pulled out of the hat with two newcomers to the competition — Bohemians and Coleraine — and midfielder Dean Fitzgerald is looking forward to pitting his wits against Bohs again having had many a battle during his time in the League of Ireland.

“All the lads like playing against League of Ireland sides because it makes a nice change,” he said.

“I have played against Bohs many times and they are always a tough team to beat, but I think we showed in games against St Pats and Drogheda last year that on or day we are a match for anyone.”

Setanta Cup draw: Group One: Cork City, Cliftonville, Sligo Rovers. Group 2: Bohemians, Glentoran, Coleraine.

Group 3: Linfield, Derry City, St Pats.

Fixture schedule

28/29 August: Cork City v Cliftonville, Glentoran v Bohemians, St Patrick's Athletic v Linfield

18/19/21 September: Sligo Rovers v Cork City, Coleraine v Glentoran, Derry City v St Patrick's Athletic

2/3/5/6 October: Cliftonville v Sligo Rovers, Bohemians v Coleraine, Linfield v Derry City

2/3 November: Glentoran v Coleraine

9/10 November: Cork City v Sligo Rovers, St Patrick's Athletic v Derry City

26/27 February: Sligo Rovers v Cliftonville, Coleraine v Bohemians, Derry City v Linfield

Saturday 13 March: Cliftonville v Cork City, Bohemians v Glentoran, Linfield v St Patrick's Athletic.

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