Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Council has been given cash boost by hot rivals

Final pointer: Malachy O’Rourke won’t underestimate Donegal
Final pointer: Malachy O’Rourke won’t underestimate Donegal

The curtain will come down tomorrow on what is viewed as one of the best Ulster senior football championships for many years.

The Donegal v Monaghan decider at Clones, a re-run of last year's final, has generated interest far beyond the confines of the province because of the competing team's perceived credentials in terms of reaching the closing stages of the All-Ireland series.

And not only has the championship thrown up some thrilling fare but it has also proved a financial bonanza for the Ulster Council.

The Down v Tyrone and Monaghan v Armagh replays provided an unexpected windfall for the Council and with 30,000 fans expected to flock through the turnstiles tomorrow, the overall attendance is expected to top 160,000.

The competition, of course, has been tinged with controversy to date, notably in relation to the flare-up that occurred immediately prior to the Armagh v Cavan tie and the Orchard County's subsequent media ban.

Throw in the almost farcical non-application of the black card rule in the Tyrone v Down drawn game, a dramatic last-gasp goal line clearance that assured Antrim of victory over Fermanagh and Tyrone manager Mickey Harte's palpable ire following what he felt was restricted added time in his team's loss to Monaghan and it can be seen that it has not been all plain sailing.

While Ulster Council chief Danny Murphy predicts a rousing climax to the championship, he remains convinced that Ulster will still enjoy representation in the closing stages of the qualifiers.

"The important element is that the overall entertainment value of games to date has been good and there could be more to come in the qualifiers and in the All-Ireland quarter-finals," he suggests.

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