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Minor problem, there's no back doors in Ulster

By John Campbell

Tyrone, Monaghan and Fermanagh have already taken their leave of the Ulster Minor Football Championship - and, worse still, packed their gear away for this year.

While minor teams in other provinces get to enjoy a second bite at the championship cherry, in Ulster the sudden death element still pertains.

And that's an issue which team bosses and indeed several county boards feel should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Only the beaten Ulster finalists are accommodated in the All-Ireland series in the absence of any qualifier format.

Donegal have reached the Ulster semi-finals in which they will meet the winners of next Sunday's Derry v Down tie on Saturday June 27 as the curtain raiser to the Armagh/Donegal v Derry/Down senior semi-final.

Antrim, meanwhile, will meet Cavan in the other semi-final and this will take place on Sunday June 21 when Fermanagh and Monaghan clash in the first senior semi-final.

The anomaly in relation to the All-Ireland minor championship remains a bone of contention within Ulster.

Tyrone boss Mickey Donnelly along with Monaghan's Garrett Coyle and Fermanagh's Keith Reilly have worked hard to build their panels and formulate playing strategies, but their players will play only club football for the remainder of the summer.

Contrast this with Munster. Not only are the finalists known there, but the back door competition in the province has already been completed.

"This shows you how a province can move on when it has a mind to," said one Ulster team manager.

"It's unfair that Ulster counties do not get a second chance in the championship.

"Several teams have already folded up their tents for the year yet the business end of the championship season has still to be reached."

Donegal are already strong favourites to retain their Ulster title as well as being in the mix for the All-Ireland crown.

If they retain their provincial crown, Donegal will have played a minimum of four games while in other provinces three games can take a team to the title while other sides have the safety-net of a second chance.

Belfast Telegraph


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