Belfast Telegraph

Linfield relishing new all-Ireland Cup: McGivern

 

Good move: Roy McGivern is a fan of the new competition
Good move: Roy McGivern is a fan of the new competition

By Graham Luney

Linfield have welcomed the new Unite the Union Champions Cup clash set to kick-off in November.

The Danske Bank Premiership winners will take on the 2019 League of Ireland victors in a two-legged tie.

Unite have signed a three-year deal to sponsor the cross-border tournament which was initially announced by the FAI in February.

A prize of €50,000 (£43,075) will go to the winners, €25,000 for the runners-up and a further €25,000 ring-fenced for community-based projects in the competing teams' local areas.

There were bigger riches on offer when the Blues won the inaugural Setanta Cup by beating favourites Shelbourne 2-0 at Tolka Park in 2005.

First-half goals from Glenn Ferguson and Peter Thompson sealed victory for the visitors and that stunning achievement banked the Blues a winners' cheque of €150,000.

The Setanta Cup ended in 2014 with clubs voicing concerns over fixture scheduling but there remains the possibility of a new all-Ireland knockout competition emerging in the future should this new concept prove a success.

Linfield chairman Roy McGivern said: "We are delighted to be the first Irish League club to participate in this new Champions Cup and look forward to welcoming the SSE Airtricity League champions to Windsor Park in November.

"It is an exciting initiative and we welcome the three-year sponsorship commitment from Unite.

"Whilst our priority next season will be to retain the Danske Bank Premiership, this new competition comes at an opportune time as we seek to develop the club at all levels."

Shamrock Rovers currently top the Premier Division standings with the season to end in October.

Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: "This is a fantastic new cross-border competition and one that I am sure will capture the imagination of football fans right across the island of Ireland.

"I would like to thank Unite the Union for their sponsorship, especially for ring-fencing a significant sum for community projects.

"This is a competition that will bring people together and one that will have lasting benefits for clubs as well as fans."

Fran Gavin, FAI Competitions Director, said: "We're delighted to formally announce the Unite the Union Champions Cup and we're extremely excited for the competition to begin.

"I'd like to thank the IFA, in particular Patrick Nelson, who have been fantastic to work with on the project and it's great to see a cross-border tournament return.

"The clubs and players in the SSE Airtricity League are incredibly excited to see a competition like this back on the domestic calendar.

"I'd also like to thank Unite, in particular Brendan Ogle and his colleagues, for their sponsorship of the tournament and the community work they're committed to as part of the competition, both north and south of the border.

"It's a unique sponsorship and we're looking forward to help promote Unite's equality agenda." 

• Crumlin Star won the Match Intermediate Cup with a 1-0 victory over Queen's University in the final at Windsor Park last night.

A scrappy affair at the National Stadium looked as if it was destined to go to extra-time, only for substitute Paul Prigent to score the winner deep into added time at the end of the second half.

Barry McKervey whipped in a corner that was only partially cleared to Prigent on the edge of the box, and the Star man made no mistake with the low finish to seal the trophy.

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