Joe Kernan: Players delighted that council has decided to retain inter-provincials
It is most encouraging to learn that Central Council has agreed that the inter-provincial football championship will be played next Spring.
While definite dates and venues have not yet been fixed, the fact that the competition has been given official blessing is a cause for celebration.
Latterly, the inter-pro series has been played at the end of the calendar year meaning that it did not enjoy a high profile.
But even though Spring tends to host a number of competitions as things stand, I think a window will be found in which the inter-pros can be showcased properly.
There has been very encouraging reaction to the decision by Central Council and there is now the likelihood that the competition will benefit from a robust marketing campaign that could include television advertising.
I know quite a number of players are particularly pleased that the competition has been given the green light and the decision to retain the series, at least for next year, could hardly be more timely given that Ulster are due in action against Donegal in the ‘Match for Michaela’ on Saturday week.
This will give me a preliminary opportunity to weigh up talent although some players will be unavailable to me because of their club commitments.
The Donegal championship final between St Eunan’s and
Naomh Conaill is down for decision on Sunday week so this means that a few first-choice players such as Rory Kavanagh, Anthony Thompson and Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy will be missing from Jim McGuinness’s side.
Nonetheless I expect he will field a formidable line-up for the Casement Park clash which could provide a pointer as to just how Ulster might do in the inter-pro series.
It is important that we bring the inter-pros to as wide an audience as possible and it is essential that we all work together to make a success of the competition.
With the exception of the International Rules series, the inter-provincials is the only competition which affords players from different counties the opportunity to play alongside each other.
This is something which appeals to a large number of our leading players and I am looking forward to seeing Ulster emerge as a potent force once again.