Ulster football team manager Joe Kernan has urged the GAA authorities to find a window in the February-March period of the annual fixtures calendar during which the Martin Donnelly inter-|provincial championships can be staged in future.
Kernan, whose side will meet Munster in the decider at Ruislip, London on Sunday week, is adamant that playing the competition early in the season will stimulate players and serve to galvanise fans’ interest.
“I am convinced that staging the series in either February or March would be a big bonus. I am aware that the national leagues, All Ireland club championship semi-finals and Sigerson Cup are usually scheduled for this particular part of the year but I still feel that a window of opportunity would present itself if we were to apply our minds to the issue,” insists Kernan.
Despite a concerted drive to entice fans to Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen for Saturday’s semi-final against Leinster, there was some disappointment that only 1,500 turned up. The sudden bout of adverse weather — gale-force winds and driving rain — clearly impacted on the attendance and Kernan is optimistic that an early-season slot would give the competition the fillip it clearly requires.
“I told the Leinster council officials after the game to join our own Ulster officials in trying to put as much pressure on the people at Croke Park as possible,” Kernan said.
The Crossmaglen fixture produced a high level of intensity and was complemented by a colourful parade to mark the 125th Anniversary celebrations and this was in sharp contrast to the other inter-pro semi-final at Limerick which pulled in a paltry 350 paying customers and resulted in a low-key 1-13 to 1-10 win for Munster over Connacht.